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Phainopepla Phainopepla nitens


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Phainopepla, male
credit: Stan Shebs/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Ptilogonatidae, Silky Flycatchers view all from this family

Description Song includes warbles and some mimicry; call is an upslurred, liquid wu'ip.

Dimensions Length: 7-7 3/4" (18-20 cm)

Habitat Easy to see and identify.

Range California, Texas, Southwest

Voice Common in desert habitats in winter, riverside woodland in summer.

Discussion Distinctive bird, recognized by its slim body, long tail, and shaggy crest. Intriguingly, habitat and habits vary throughout year, reflecting seasonal availability of food: diet includes insects in summer, berries (particularly mistletoe) in winter. Usually rather solitary in winter desert haunts, but more gregarious in wooded habitat favored in summer. Sexes are dissimilar. ADULT MALE Unmistakable, with its glossy black plumage. Note the beady red eye. White wing flash (on primaries) is obvious only in flight. ADULT FEMALE Structurally similar to male, but plumage is buff-gray overall, with white margins to wing feathers and bluish gray tone to head; iris is red. JUVENILE Similar to adult female, but with warmer buff tone to plumage.