phainopepla (shinging robe) nitens (shining)
Sunday, April 1, 1984 — 8:35 am
Pima County, Arizona — Road from Continental to Madera Canyon
We got up early and headed south to do more birding. The areas we visited this day are among the most famous birding areas in the country, and I was excited just thinking about birding there. They didn’t disappoint.
We were driving along a narrow road through flats covered with mesquite that was dripping with mistletoe, near Florida Wash. Mom pulled the van to the side of the road, and we got out to watch a pair of Phainopeplas. They were flying tree to tree, stopping very briefly between flights. The male was very beautiful, a shiny jet-black with large white wing patches that flashed in flight. It had a pointy crest, a thin bill and red eyes. The female was similar, with slate gray replacing the black.