Family Silky-flycatchers (Ptiliogonidae)

Least Concern

Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens)


French: Phénopèple luisant German: Trauerseidenschnäpper Spanish: Capulinero negro

Ptilogonys nitens


, 1838,



Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. n. lepida Van Tyne, 1925 – SW USA (California E to W Texas) and NW Mexico (S to S Baja California, S Sonora and Chihuahua); in winter S to S Tamaulipas and C San Luis Potosí.
  • P. n. nitens (Swainson, 1838) – S USA (S Texas) S to S Mexican Plateau (S Chihuahua, NW Durango and SW Tamaulipas S to S Hidalgo; in winter S to NW Oaxaca).
  • Descriptive notes

    18–21 cm; 22 g. Slender, with prominent crest and long tail. Male is glossy black, with white wing patches (visible in flight or when wing extended); iris red; bill and... read more


    Contact call a mellow rising “wurp”; harsh “churr” note during chases and... read more


    In SW USA, occupies deserts in Oct–Apr and riparian woodland in May–Sept; highest... read more

    Food and feeding

    Small berries and flying insects. Nestling diet as adult’s. Forages at variety of fruiting shrubs with small berries (less than 5 mm... read more


    Nesting seasons in USA brief, coinciding with availability of fruit and insects, Feb–Apr in desert and May–Jul in riparian... read more


    Short-distance migrant in USA; leaves desert late Mar to early May (timing dependent on food supply... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common. Estimates of numbers suggest that population declines have occurred, in USA at least, as a result of habitat loss associated with... read more

    Recommended citation

    Chu, M. (2019). Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 16 February 2019).