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Phainopepla - BirdForum Opus

Photo by 4Niles
Tucson, Arizona, USA
Phainopepla nitens


Length 18-21 cm (7-8¼ in), weight 22 g
Short, thin bill, red eyes, dark crest
Males have glossy black plumage
Females gray, except for white wing patches only visible in flight; long tail
Juveniles are similar to females.


Photo by sabeebe
Tucson, Arizona USA



Two subspecies recognized[1]:

  • P. n. nitens east of the Chihuahuan Desert, from southern Texas south to the Mexian plateau
  • P. n. lepida west of the Chihuahuan Desert, in the arid southwest of the USA south to Baja California and northwest Mexico (Sonora and Chihuahua)


Desert oases and deserts, woodlands.



Immature male
Photo by Grobertson
Red Springs, Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, Nevada, May 2017

The get the water they need from food. Their main diet consists of small berries and flying insects.


The eggs are gray or pink with speckles on them. Both adults share incubation duties, which takes 15 days. The young fledging after a further 19 days..


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2016. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2016, with updates to August 2016. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved July 2016)

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