Phainopepla – Pretty Bird, Strange Name

Phainopepla
Sailor Bar, American River Parkway, Fair Oaks, CA; OCT 2020

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

Please click on caption to see image at higher resolution.

Phainopepla
Sailor Bar, American River Parkway, Fair Oaks, CA; OCT 2020
Images of the Phainopepla, a beautiful bird with a strange name.
Phainopepla
Sailor Bar, American River Parkway, Fair Oaks, CA; OCT 2020
Phainopepla
Mississippi Bar, American River Parkway, Orangevale, CA; OCT 2020

Please visit my website, www.earthwatcher.us to see my collection of landscapes and wildlife.

These and other images are available to purchase by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us.

2 thoughts on “Phainopepla – Pretty Bird, Strange Name

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