Phainopepla, Male

Male Phainopeplas (Phainopepla nitens) have glossy black feathers, spiky feathered crests, and ruby-red eyes, which make these attractive, unique-looking desert birds quite easy to identify.

Male Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens)

The females look similar to the males, but are a charcoal gray color. Phainopeplas can be easily located by sound just by listening for their distinctive "Wurrip?" calls.

This male was apparently keeping a lookout while the female and several grayish juveniles hopped about in a mesquite tree heavily laden with Mesquite Mistletoe (Phoradendron californicum). Mistletoe berries are their main food source, however Phainopeplas can also be seen capturing flying insects, which is not a surprise given that these versatile birds are in the Silky-flycatcher Family (Ptilogonatidae).