The Phainopepla, or Phainopepla nitens, is the most northerly representative of the mainly tropical Central American family Ptilogonatidae, the silky flycatchers.
The Phainopepla is a striking bird, 16-20 cm long with a noticeable crest and a long tail; it is slender, and has an upright posture when it perches. Its bill is short and slender. The male is glossy black, and has a white wing patch that is visible when it flies; the female is plain gray and has a lighter gray wing patch. Both sexes have red eyes, but these are more noticeable in the female than the male.
Its chief food is the berries of the Desert Mistletoe (Phoradendron californicum), but since these are only available seasonally in the northern parts of its range, it also eats the berries of other trees such as juniper and elderberry, and insects, hawking for them in flight like a flycatcher. It is an important vector for the mistletoe seeds. When there enough mistletoe berries they will often congregate in the hundreds.
It nests in the spring. The eggs are dray or pink and speckled. Incubation, done by both the male and female, generally takes fifteen days. The chicks are reared by the parents for up to nineteen more days.
The Phainopepla ranges as far north as central California and southern Utah, and south to northern Mexico. It is found in hot areas, including desert oases, and is often seen in the deserts of Arizona and southern California.
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