National Geographic : 1954 May
706 Phainopepla with Mistletoe Berry in Mouth Spreads Her Wings Like a Japanese Fan No other bird looks like the male Phainopepla, a slim glossy-black creature with white wing patches and a slender crest that jerks high as an alarm signal. This female somewhat resembles a cedar waxwing except for her uniform gray and lack of yellow tail bands. Only member of the silky flycatchers to cross the Mexican border into the United States, she nests in arid lowlands of the Southwest. The ear-shaped alula, or false wing, stands out clearly on top of the wing just back of the head. Its small feathers, borne on the thumb of the bird's "hand," appear to facilitate landing by breaking the air's flow like an airplane's flaps. plumage as well, although they sometimes have a few black feathers on their throats. The characteristic yellow spots in wing and tail likewise may be a deeper yellow or orange. It is difficult to make generalizations about the plumages of warblers, because there is so much seasonal and sexual variation in the different species. The chestnut-sided (page 689), for example, wears a very different plumage during the winter, although the male and female are much alike in summer. The yellow warbler (page 689), the redstart, and the Nashville (page 700), however, wear the same bright colors winter and summer. The same difference occurs between tana gers and orioles. The male scarlet tanager (page 688), for instance, wears a yellowish green livery like the female's during the winter, but the male Baltimore oriole's winter feathers are just like those he wears in sum mer (page 683). It is the rule in birds for the male to wear a brighter plumage than the female. There are a few exceptions, however, especially among the group of shore birds known as phalaropes; here the sexes are reversed in this particular, since the females wear the brighter colors. Parental duties are also re versed; males incubate the eggs and rear the young without any help from their mates. The belted kingfisher falls into this cate gory also, so far as plumage is concerned, for the female wears an extra chestnut band across the breast, as shown on page 701, and this is always lacking in the male. A bird photographer is usually considered a specialist, and a specialist has been defined as one who knows more and more about less and less. Since a good bird photograph is now secured in 1/5000 of a second, a good photographer should be able to write on indefinitely concerning how he secured it. To avoid such a calamity, the present pho tographer had best write finis to his five and a fifth milliseconds.