phainopepla (shining robe) nitens (shining)
Sunday, April 1, 1984 — 8:35 am
Pima County, Arizona — Road from Continental to Madera Canyon
My family and I 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 near Florida Wash through flats covered with mesquite dripping with mistletoe. 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.