Nests & Eggs: Flycatcher

Plate 50: Black-Crested Flycatcher

Phainopepla nitens

Silky, black bird of the Southwest easiest to find in winter.


This peculiar crested species is wholly shining blue black except for a patch of white on the inner webs of the primaries. Their habits are somewhat like those of the Cedar-bird, they being restless, and feeding upon berries or insects, catching the latter in the air. They make loosely constructed nests of twigs, mosses, plant fibres, etc., placed on branches of trees, usually below 20 feet from the ground, in thickets or open woods near water; the eggs are two or three in number, light gray, spotted sharply with black….

The Bird Book by Chester A. Reed
  • Print out the notebooking pages provided below.
  • Read the phainopepla (or shining crested flycatcher) story in The Children’s Book of Birds out loud.
  • Have a younger student orally narrate what was read. He can then copy a few lines of his narration onto the notebooking pages.
  • Older students can read the text, Plate L: Black-Crested Flycatcher, and provide a written narration.
  • Sketch the bird. This encourages attention to detail, which will aid in identifying the bird later on. Another option is to use the printables provided below.
  • Sketch the nest of the bird, along with the eggs. Note where the nest is usually found.
  • Older students can include the taxonomy.
  • Learn more about the phainopepla at Cornell.
  • On one notebooking page note the facts:
    • Description.
    • Habitat.
    • Range.
    • Food.
    • Nest.
    • Eggs.
    • Call.
  • You can read about another type of crested flycatcher in The Burgess Bird Book: CHAPTER VII. The Watchman of the Old Orchard.

Additional Resources

30 Narration Ideas
At some point you might appreciate some variety.

The Bird Study sections of our free nature study series: Our Wonderful World:

Free Nature Studies: Our Wonderful World
Printables & Notebooking Pages

Black-Crested Flycatcher (Phainopepla) Notebooking Pages
Free simple notebooking set.

Bird picture for notebook.

Phainopepla Range Map
For notebook from Cornell.

Bird Facts Notebooking Page
One option in a more graphic organizer style that is especially nice for noting the facts and range.

Enjoy the entire series:
Nest & Eggs ~ Intro & Free eBook
Free Bird Studies: Nests & Eggs ~ Complete Series


Create a website or blog at