8th and last in my series of "crested" birds is another Southwest bird with a great name - the Phainopepla. To be honest, until the winter of 2008, I have never heard of this bird. Val and I were hiking in the McDowell Mts. near Phoenix, AZ, when Val took a picture (above, 12-24-08) of this bird. It wasn't until later in the day when we were looking at our photos, Val asked me what kind of bird was in her photo - I had no idea - it wasn't in any bird book I have ever seen -it looked like a black cardinal. It didn't take much research to find out what it was. It is a fairly common bird in the Southwest. However because of its dark blue / black feathers, it is very difficult to get a picture of it on a bright day with a white/gray sky.
A year later we purposely went back to the McDowell Mts. hoping to get a better picture. Sure enough, there were Phainopeplas to be seen, but it was another bright day with a white sky, and it was hard to get anything but silhouettes in our photos. Below (12-30-09) I did manage to get close enough to get some definition of the bird, but it was still a challenge. Maybe we'll try again next winter, during our annual winter migration to Arizona.