Thursday, January 1, 2015

Phainopepla

Phainopepla
Female Phainopepla. Culp Valley, California. December 25, 2014. Greg Gillson.
Last August I posted a couple of photos of Phainopeplas at Palomar Mountain and told about them. They are fluffy, large-tailed birds with a red eye and a perky crest. They are found in deserts, dry mountains slopes, and bushy canyons from California to SW Texas and south into adjacent Mexico.

I was able to get several photos this past week in the Anza-Borrego Desert, in the eastern portion of San Diego County.

Females are grayish, as above. The males are a silky black with big white wing patches at the base of the primaries, visible in flight.

Phainopepla
Male Phainopepla. Borrego Springs, California. December 26, 2014. Greg Gillson.
They favor mistletoe berries (below) as winter fare, switching to insects when available.

Phainopepla

I'm always happy to see these birds and hear their imitable mellow, whistled, "whit!" call.

Phainopepla