Escapito #1 Focus Study: Phay-no Who?

Welcome back to Percha Dam State Park.

While developing my last nature journal pages about the notoriously fascinating big leaf mistletoe, a perfect segue materialized like magic ….. the natural connection from food to forager, from flora to fauna, from white plump sticky berries called drupes, to shiny black silky flycatchers called Phainopepla (phay-no-pepla).

While camping in the park, we were treated to frequent appearances of several active and vocal phainopeplas. The beautiful glossy black males were putting on quite an aerial show, flashing their bright white wing patches to attract the gray-brown females, Between acts, all the birds we watched ravenously gobbled ripe mistletoe berries from the never-ending supply loading down the riverine cottonwoods.

Here’s what I learned.

Continue reading “Escapito #1 Focus Study: Phay-no Who?”

Escapito #1 Focus Study: HoHoHo Mistletoe!

Percha Dam State Park may not have been the nicest place we stayed during our southern jaunt through New Mexico, but it obviously made an impression. Situated along the Rio Grande River, the area seems to be a magnet for birds. And for good reason. Food! And food for at least one very cool bird, the Phainopepla. A specialist species, their favorite high glucose treat happens to be mistletoe berries…… and oh my! Every cottonwood tree along the river corridor weighed heavy with huge leafy clumps of big leaf mistletoe laden with ripe berries!

There wasn’t a single tree without mistletoe, made all the more obvious because the cottonwoods were still dormant. I wondered ….. is this a healthy situation?

Continue reading “Escapito #1 Focus Study: HoHoHo Mistletoe!”