Phainopepla Life History


Habitat ScrubDesert, riparian woodlands, and chaparral.Back to top


Food FruitMistletoe berries, other berries, and flying insects.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Tree

Nest Description

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.

Nesting Facts
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.
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Behavior Foliage GleanerPicks berries from mistletoe clusters. Catches insects on the wing, sometimes together with other Phainopeplas. Perches on tops of trees and shrubs.Back to top


Conservation Low ConcernPhainopepla 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.Back to top


Chu, Miyoko and Glenn Walsberg. 1999. Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

North American Bird Conservation Initiative. 2014. The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

Partners in Flight (2017). Avian Conservation Assessment Database. 2017.

Sauer, J. R., J. E. Hines, J. E. Fallon, K. L. Pardieck, Jr. Ziolkowski, D. J. and W. A. Link. The North American Breeding Bird Survey, results and analysis 1966-2013 (Version 1.30.15). USGS Patuxtent Wildlife Research Center 2014b. Available from

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley guide to birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, USA.

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