- 7.1–8.3 in
- 11.4 in
- 0.6–1 oz
- Phénopèple luisant (French)
- Jilguero negro, Capulinero negro (Spanish)
- The Phainopepla, when pursued by predators or handled by humans, mimics the calls of other birds; imitations of at least 13 species have been recorded.
- An individual Phainopepla eats at least 1,100 mistletoe berries per day, when they are available.
- The name "Phainopepla" (pronounced fay-no-PEP-la) comes from the Greek for "shining robe," a fitting characterization of the shiny, jet-black plumage of the adult male.
- The Phainopepla exhibits strikingly different behaviors in its two habitats. In the desert, it is territorial, actively defending nesting and foraging sites, while in the woodlands it is colonial, with as many as four nesting pairs sharing one large tree.
- The Phainopepla rarely drinks water, even though research indicates that it loses about 95 percent of its body mass in water per day. Instead, it gets the water it needs from its diet of mistletoe.
Desert, riparian woodlands, and chaparral.
Mistletoe berries, other berries, and flying insects.
- Clutch Size
- 2–4 eggs
- Egg Description
- Round. Light grayish, with small dark speckles.
- Condition at Hatching
- Helpless with sparse white down, skin grayish black.
Small, shallow, woven cup of twigs and fibers, placed on a tree limb or fork, or in a clump of mistletoe, typically 2-5 m (6.6-16.4 ft) above ground.
Picks berries from mistletoe clusters. Catches insects on the wing, sometimes together with other Phainopeplas. Perches on tops of trees and shrubs.
Phainopepla populations are stable, but appear to have declined slightly between 1966 and 2014, according to to the North American Breeding Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 3 million with 37% breeding in the U.S., and 68% spending part of the year in Mexico. The species rates a 10 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score and is a U.S.-Canada Stewardship species. Phainopepla is not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List. Habitat loss from conversion of desert riparian areas for agricultural use has led to reductions in the number and size of breeding populations.
- Chu, M., and G. Walsberg. 1999. Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens). In The Birds of North America, No. 415 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.
- North American Bird Conservation Initiative, U.S. Committee. 2014. State of the Birds 2014 Report. U.S. Department of Interior, Washington, DC.
- Partners in Flight. 2012. Species assessment database.
- USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. 2014. North American Breeding Bird Survey 1966–2014 Analysis.