The Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens), is a bird we see in the Sacramento area, but my experience is that it is not seen often. In fact, “Checklist of the Birds of the Sacramento Area” says they are hard to find in the summer but are a little bit more prevalent the rest of the year. Their range is generally the Southwestern US and Mexico as well as California’s Central Valley.
According to All About Birds from Cornell Labs, they are a silky flycatcher, not related to other North American Flycatchers. They eat insects and berries, especially the berry of the desert Mistletoe. Though they have their own call, they sometimes imitate the calls of other birds.
The name Phainopepla, comes from the Greek: Phain Pepla, meaning shining robe, likely referencing the shiny black feathers of the male. They have red eyes but I have noticed while photographing them the color varies to black and yellow depending upon the angle and strength of the light.
Cornell Labs, All About Birds: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Phainopepla/overview
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