by Marilyn and Keith Davis

"Not an Ordinary Bird"


phainopepla        We enjoy taking Art classes at the Senior Center. Last Wednesday when we pulled into the Senior Center driveway, located south of the building, there was a different bird sitting on top of a fence. This driveway passes by the backyards of several homes which are full of fruit and nut trees, grapevines, and gardens. We see lots of birds in this area, but the one we spotted was not an ordinary, common, local variety. It had a slim 8-inch body, was a beautiful light gray color, and had a distinctive crest. This was a female Phainopepla. I have never seen one with such a light gray coat of feathers. I love this bird. The female is gray, and the male is black, both with a distinctive crest on top of the head, and both with red eyes. Don’t be fooled into thinking the male is some other bird when it flies and you see white on the black wings. Phainopeplas have come and gone time and again in southern Utah depending on what food is available. They are fond of mistletoe, but fruit, berries and insects will do. The rule of thumb is . . . when we want to see Phainopeplas, we drive to Lytle Ranch and Beaver Dam (next to the Beaver Dam Wash), or Mesquite, Nevada (next to the Virgin River) for this is prime habitat for Phainopeplas.

         "If the good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise" you too may see this beautiful bird along the Santa Clara and Virgin Rivers. Washington City is another great place, or up Temple Street in St. George. For a 99% chance of seeing this not so ordinary beauty, travel to Lytle Preserve. If you have questions about finding the Phainopepla or the upcoming Red Cliffs Audubon monthly activities, call 435 673-0996. Pot Luck Social is Wednesday, September 12, at 7:00 p.m. - Tonaquint Nature Center. Come enjoy, and pick up this season’s Field Trip Schedule.


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