Phainopepla Phainopepla nitens

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Ptiliogonatidae
  • Polytypic: 2 subspecies
  • Authors needed...

Phainopepla is the northernmost member of the small (3-4 species) of the Central American family of Silky-flycatchers. A slender (20 cm length), glossy, all black bird with a crest and red eye, the male Phainopepla is not likely to be confused with any other species. The gray female isn’t quite as distinctive and may suggest a flycatcher. Phainopeplas breed in arid areas from the southwestern U.S., Baja California, and northwestern Mexico southward on the Mexican plateau to Guanajuato and Hidalgo. Wintering birds occur further south in Mexico. They are considered mistletoe specialists and are often seen atop a mesquite or other tree that has been invaded by this parasitic plant. They also take fruits such as elderberry and figs, and some insects. Where food is plentiful, aggregations of dozens of birds may form. The call note is short and upward inflected with a questioning quality. The song is short, soft and of several syllables. Calls of other birds or even mammals may be mimicked and included in their delivery. A short, raspy note may also be heard.

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© Geoffrey A. Keller

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: