Sunday, July 20, 2014

Phainopepla (Silky Flycatcher)

First time I ever saw a Phainopepla was in 1997 at Cottonwood Spring in Joshua Tree National Park. I was a newbie birder at the time, but the striking, glossy black plumage, red eyes, Billy Idol-like crest, and white wing patches (visible in flight) of the bird I saw near the group picnic area made it easy to identify through my field guide. Phainopeplas are denizens of the desert Southwest, but they do sometimes venture into chaparral and suburbs as I've discovered over the years. In some years they migrate through our area in the early summer months. Their distinctive soft wurp, wurp, wurp call is unmistakable. 

FAMILY: Ptilogonatidae. A mostly Central American species that feeds on mistletoe and berries. 

 5/20/14 Female Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens) on a flowering Pineapple Guava in the upper orchard. Unlike the males, females are gray in color.

5/10/14 Female Phainopepla on a Eureka lemon in the orchard. 

5/20/14 Male Phainopepla on the same Pineapple Guava. For about a month and a half while this tree was in bloom, it was an absolute magnet for Phainopeplas. Not sure why because I always thought they were predominantly berry eating birds.  This guy seemed to have pollen all over his head. 

5/20/14 Male Phainopepla on the Eureka lemon next to the infamous Pineapple Guava. 

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