Bird #270 — Phainopepla

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.

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