Tuesday, January 7, 2014


I cannot tell you how thrilled that I am to bring you this bird. What I have for you today is a female Phainopepla. This is a bird species from the south west desert ranging from extreme southern California, Nevada and Arizona down through Mexico. Their diet consists of mistletoe berries. If you buy into the psychobabble of from the ilk of psychologist and henchmen such as psychiatrist, the Phainopepla could be considered schizophrenic because it has two distinct behavioral patterns. When found in the woodland habitats it is colonial with as many as four pairs in a single nesting tree. In the desert, the pairs are solitary and defend their territory. 

©2013 Steve Borichevsky

The lovely female above is lighter than the male, which is jet, glossy black. Below is one that I was taking pot-shots as he flew by. Note the white wing markings.

©2013 Steve Borichevsky©2013 Steve Borichevsky

Here is a snapshot of a male showing to give you an idea of the coloration. I apologize for the lack of quality in this photo, I hadn’t seen a Phainopepla in over 20 years, and I lost my mind and took a long distance snap. They were not very tolerant of my presence, which makes the shot up above that much more precious.

©2013 Steve Borichevsky

Phainopepla was settled upon for a common name. It is from scientific name, Phainopepla nitens. Phainopepla comes from the Greek for “shining robe”. Other names from days gone by are Shining Fly-snapper and Silky Fly-snapper. Although mistletoe make up the bulk of the diet, the Phainopepla will take insects on the wing.

Be sure to visit Wild Bird Wednesday this week.


Margaret Adamson said...

HI Steve I am so thrilled for you to have seen this bird again after 20 years. You did get some shots to show us what it was like. Many thanks.

The Furry Gnome said...

Lucky you!

John @ Sinbad and I on the Loose said...

I like to say "Phainopepla" but did not know the meaning behind the word. Thanks. I see them most every time I go to Anza Borrego.

Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Beautiful bird.. Regards..

eileeninmd said...

Great bird, Steve! Congrats on your sighting.

Christian Weiß said...

Beautiful bird and great to see a species after such a long time.

Karen said...

Handsome bird! How thrilling for you to see and photograph them!

Roy Norris said...

What an amazing bird Steve, the white wing bars make me think of our Magpie species.

Gunilla Bäck said...

Lovely birds. How awesome that you got some shots of them.

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