When do the Phainopepla return to Shoshone and the Amargosa?
Males and females will each defend their own territory of mesquite laden with mistletoe berries.
In late February they will pair up and either join territories, if adjacent, or the female will join the male’s territory and abandon hers. Phainopepla are obligated to eating berries, and their digestive tract is adapted to handle over 1000 berries per day. Sometimes they abandon entire breeding areas or have mass nesting success or failure, based on berry abundance. In Shoshone in early 2015, for some reason, Phainopepla began nesting almost a month early, Late January in some cases. Many eggs were laid in early February vs. the usual mid- to late March. Although I wasn’t able to monitor the 12 nests that I found in February, when I started monitoring in April, by the calendar, there should have been Phainopepla fledglings everywhere, and unlike any other April that I've seen, there were almost none, and almost no adults. Apparently a mass failure and territory abandonment had occurred. Could this have been because of a sub-par mistletoe crop? Could it have been due to a shift in nesting timing and its correlation to insect hatch timing? Phainopepla, as do most songbirds, feed their young insects, at least for the first week or 10 days.More questions than answers, that’s the Phainopepla story.
In 2012, Shoshone Village and US Fish and Wildlife Service co-sponsored a Phainopepla tagging project along with Death Valley Academy students. In 2015, the first nest I found, was of a male, color banded in 2012. Please report any color band sightings! Call 760-852-4284(that’s my number) if you see a Phainopepla with bands on the legs. Try to note the color combination. For example , orange over green, on the left leg. Each tagged bird has it’s own unique color combination that allows it to be identified without recapturing it. You can watch the video about color banding Phainopepla with Death Valley Academy students
CLICK HERE TO SEE "HAVE A PHAINOPEPLA DAY"
More coming soon on the arrival of Phainopepla on Shoshone Wetlands !