Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo by Robert T. Maytum
Photo Courtesy of Robert T. Maytum

The phainopepla, Phainopepla nitens, occurs in the southwestern United States and in Mexico. Although it is largely nonmigratory, Mexican populations seem to be nomadic or migratory, and even some populations in the United States exhibit certain seasonal shifts. In Utah, this species is found only in the southwestern corner of the state, principally in southern Washington County. The habitats of this species are desert riparian areas, semiarid woodlands, and chaparral. Its foods are mainly small berries, such as mistletoe berries, and insects.

The nest of the phainopepla is normally about six to fifteen feet (occasionally up to forty-five feet) above the ground in a small tree. Two to four eggs are incubated for fourteen days by both parents. The young are tended by both parents, though in some cases mostly by the female, and typically fledge after twenty days. This species is rarely parasitized by the brown-headed cowbird.


  • Chu, M., and G. Walsberg. 1999. Phainopepla. Birds of North America 415: 1–19.

  • Baicich, P. J., and C. J. O. Harrison. 1997. A guide to the nests, eggs, and nestlings of North American birds. 2nd ed. Academic, San Diego. 347 pp.

  • Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder’s handbook[:] a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon & Schuster, New York. xxx + 785 pp.