Phainopepla: Silky Flycatcher
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Types of Birds
Phainopepia are the only members of a small family of birds (Ptilogonatidae) regularly found in the United States.
Collectively the four members of the family (Black-and-yellow Silky-flycatcher, Gray Silky-flycatcher, Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher, Phainopepla) are called the Silky Flycatchers.
Like members of the flycatcher family (Tyrannidae), they tend to sit on tree branches, keeping an eye open for insects in the area, then flying out to catch them.
Silky Flycatchers tend to be much larger and have more distinct crested head feathers than the Tyrant Flycatchers.
All Silky-flycatchers also eat berries, with mistletoe berries being the berry of choice for the Phainopepla.
Phainopepla are only found in the southern most part of the Southwestern United States. They split time living in both desert and woodland habitat.
From a distance, they might be mistaken for other large, black feathered birds such as crows, ravens or grackles. A close-up look shows the male's distinctive red eyes and black crest. Female Phainopepla have gray feathers with red eyes.
© 2007. Patricia A. Michaels. All Rights Reserved.