Say’s Phoebe on Rosie Creek Trail
Maybe it was migrating south. Or maybe it was spending the last couple of days surveying its territory, waiting for a Crane Fly to wander by. Either way, doesn’t it look more majestic than its humble 4 or 5 inches?
The Say’s Phoebe is named after Thomas Say, a naturalist who named hundreds of new species at the beginning of the 1800s. He identified over 1,000 species of beetle alone, and over 400 other insects. He saw and described the Say’s Phoebe during an expedition to the Rocky Mountains in 1819.
But isn’t it kind of silly to associate this enigmatic little creature to a man from the 1800s? And what did Native Americans call the Say’s Phoebe? … What is in a name anyway?
… Alas, we must communicate.
You might have noticed that this spruce tree has a lot of cones. Apparently, the year after a conifer goes through a period of stress – such as drought – the tree produces a crop of cones that is much larger than normal. The dark ones are immature.
This is a Black Spruce (there are no naturally occurring pine trees in interior or northern Alaska though spruce trees are often mistaken for them). Black Spruce is looked at with disdain by a lot of Alaskans because it represents unbuildable wetlands fraught with frost lenses and mucky tundra.
But this mucky tundra is the Say’s Phoebe’s living room for the summer. It spends its years flying between an arctic paradise and a tropical paradise. To the Say’s Phoebe, this fair-sized Black Spruce (12-15 feet tall) is the perfect perch for hunting mosquitos, unbuildable wetlands and all.
This entry was posted on March 22, 2012 by judyinalaska. It was filed under Uncategorized and was tagged with alaska, arctic paradise, beetle, bird, black, blue sky, bog, boilogy, build, cone, conifer, crane, crane fly, creature, crop, drought, environment, evening, fairbanks, flycatcher, forest, insect, interior, mexico, migrate, migrating, mosquito, muck, name, native, natural, nature, north, northern alaska, passerine, perch, phoebe, plants, rosie creek, say, science, south, spruce, stress, sun, taxonomy, thomas say, travel, tree, tundra, wetland.