THIS IS a very good PIC SO FAR OF THE PHAINOPEPLA. THIS ONE TAKEN BY GEORGE PETERSON.
CLICK HERE TO SEE PHAINOPEPLA GALLERY.
DEC. 5, MID-MORNING: THE BIRD WAS SHOWING ITSELF TO SEVEN BIRDERS AT 945AM. THE SKY WAS LIGHTENING AND THE RAIN FALLING OFF. THE BIRD IS BOTH FLYCATCHING AND EATING MISTLETOE BERRIES. THERE WERE NO BLUEBIRDS IN THE VICINITY SO THE PHAINO’S ATTACKS SEEM TO HAVE BEEN EFFECTIVE. THE BIRD COULDBE HEARD CALLING OCCASIONALLY.
DEC. 5TH UPDATE. AT 815AM THIS DATE THE PHAINOPEPLA WAS SEEN FEEDING IN MISTLTOE IN SAME OAK GROVE, AND AGGRESSIVELY DRIVING OFF COMPETING BLUEBIRDS. THIS REPORT FROM LINDA AND PETER KREISMAN. FORREST ENGLISH WAS ALSO WATCHING THE BIRD AND ONE BIRDER FROM KLAMATH FALLS WAS HOPING TO CROSS THE CASCADES TO SEE “OUR” PHAINO.
LATE UPDATE, DEC. 4, AS LATE AS 415PM SEVEN OF US WERE WATCHING THE PHAINOPEPLA IN THE SAME MISTLETOE-RICH OAKS AS THE LIGHT FADED TO BLACK. THE BIRD WAS CALLING SOFTLY. IT’S SINGLE NOTE–IRONIC FOR A DESERT BIRD–SOUNDS LIKE WATER DROPS FALLING INTO A HALF-FILLED GLASS JAR. SIMILAR TO THE CALL NOTRE OF THE HOODED ORIOLE.
UPDATE: AROUND 2:30 PM THIS DATE (DEC 4) THREE LOCAL BIRDERS REFOUND THE PHAINOPEPLA IN THE SAME SET OF OAKS. MORE PICTURES MAY BE FORTHCOMING. THERE IS AN AMPLE SUPPLY OF MISTLETOE BERRIES FOR NOW, BUT THIS BIRD CAN EAT A THOUSAND PER DAY. AND HE MUST COMPETE WITH THE RESIDENT BLUEBIRDS, MIGRANTS ROBINS AND HERMIT THRUSHES, ANY PASSING WAXWINGS.
Holy Global Warming, Batman! Phainopepla at Emigrant Lake. At least eight miles north of the California border. Watch this blog URL for details and many more pics.
This is a first year bird. It lacks the white windows in its wing feathers when they are open and it has more drab brown stain on its wings and chest than the glossier purple-black adults.
BIRDS OF OREGON by Contreras, et al. lists two previous Jackson County sightings: Gold Hill (1961) and south of Medford (winter of 1988-8). The nearest breeding habitat for this species is in the foothill riparian corridors ofthe Sacramento Valley south of Redding. The species is not common that far north. A few apparently winter in the Sacramento Valley despite the heavy rains. And this bird has come at least 150 miles through mountainous terrain to try to survive a winter here in the Rogue Valley. I wish Young Phaino all the luck. The heart of this species’ range is, of course, the dry streambeds of our desert southwest.
I found this bird among a flock of sparrows in the scrubby oak at the south end of Emigtrant Lake. Enter the gravel parking lot next to the black mailbox #7110 on Hwy 66, walk uphill past the toilet shed to the oaks and ceanothus scrub before you reach the edge of the old rock quarry. The bird was in that habitat with Golden-crowned Sparrows, kinglet and Spotted Towhee among others. Long tail and crest are unmissanble as this bird is much darker than titmouse even in rain and bad light. It perched at or near treetops and sat still like a flycatcher, not a nervous little gleaner like the crested titmouse(s) that are also around. If you click on this photo below you’ll see an enlarged version.
The Phainopepla is one of four species in the Silky-flycatcher family. The others are found in Central America. All members of the Ptilogonatidae are modest sized, sleek, crested birds. They are related to waxwings, of which there areonly 3 species.