Black Cardinal is Really Phainopepla

DACNewcomers to our area often comment about the black cardinal they see perched high in a tree.

Indeed, he does look somewhat like a cardinal at first glance with his streamlined body and pointed crest on top of his head. His jet-black feathers glisten in the sunlight and his red eyes sparkle with curiosity. He has no common name, but his formal name fits him perfectly.

He is the Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens), his name being a Greek word meaning “shining robe.” When he flies, you will see a white patch on each wing – which is why the Native Americans appropriately called him the “window wing bird.”

The females and young are gray with light-gray wing patches. In the book Birds of North America, he is listed as uncommon countrywide; but in the lower Sonoran life zone he can be seen quite often. Phainopepla are semi-migratory, spending winters here. They nest and raise their young here also; but when the summer heat begins, they leave for higher country.

He belongs to a family called flycatchers. You won’t see him at the feeder because his main diet consists of insects. He also enjoys small fruits and berries, one of his favorite being the mistletoe berry.

He builds his nest on a mesquite branch in or near a clump of mistletoe. The nest is made of fine materials held together with hair or spider web and is lined with soft down from seed pods. The male does most of the work building the nest, and also helps feed and raise the young. If he loses his mate during this time, he will take the responsibility of raising the young all by himself until they are self-sufficient.

To view him, walk down a wash and look for mesquite trees containing mistletoe. Listen for his soft, short, one-syllable whistle. He enjoys perching high on the tree. He is rather shy, keeping his distance – but often he will follow you, darting from tree to tree. If you imitate his call, don’t be surprised if he answers you. When you finally find the “window wing bird,” you will not be disappointed.
Courtesy Photos/Wikipedia

NOVEMBER 9, 2011

The Civil War comes alive at Pioneer Nov. 19 and 20

Live battles, seminars and demonstrations will be performed

Have you ever wondered what it was like to witness, first-hand, a battle of the Civil War? Did you know that, early in the war, some people took their picnic lunches to a nearby hill to watch the fighting? How loud were the cannon? What would it have been like to watch men fight each other over a patch of ground? These questions and many more will be answered by Civil War reenactors at the “Brawl in the Fall,” as they come to Pioneer Living History Museum (PLHM) from all over the southwest to participate in battles and skirmishes during the two day event.

In addition to two or three battles each day, visitors will be treated to short seminars illuminating the life of the average soldier during this epic time in our nation’s history. Learn about the weapons and their effectiveness. Walk into a Union or Confederate camp and chat with the men and women who had to suffer the privations and the primitive conditions it demanded.

The live battles, seminars and demonstrations will be performed at PLHM on November 19 and 20 by the Southwest Civil War Association (SWCWA). Pioneer Living History Museum is located off I-17 at Pioneer exit 225. It is just south of Daisy Mountain and north of Carefree Highway.

PLHM is open daily, Wednesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Entrance fees are $7 for adults, $5 for students 5-17 years, $6 for seniors 60+. Children under 5 years of age are free. You can find more exciting Pioneer events and information at: or call them at: 623.465.1052.

For SWCWA information, contact:

NOVEMBER 9, 2011

Clothes for Keeps going mobile

Veteran’s Day is fee-free day

Clothes for Keeps, a nonprofit organization, was started by Stacie Hawkins and her family. The idea behind the project came from being foster parents. Stacie and her husband Chris have been foster parents to children in the custody of Child Protective Services for the last 4 years. During this time they have offered their home to 5 different boys. All of the kids were unique as they came from different situations and backgrounds. The one consistent thing among the boys was that they came with only the clothes on their back … no personal items, school supplies, PJs or other clothes.

Stacie and Chris had friends and family who provided odds and ends over the course of the last 4 years to clothe the children they fostered. The children receive a nominal clothing allowance each month but it doesn’t even cover the cost of a pair of shoes.

During a recent break from fostering Stacie still had the desire to support the kids but in a different capacity. She decided to start a collection of new and gently used clothes for foster kids in Arizona. Currently there are over 10,000 children in out-of-home care in Arizona.
Today Stacie has two rooms full and a garage full of clothing and personal items that have been donated or purchased by friends and family. All the items collected are considered fashionable and up to date with the latest kids’ styles. All the clothes are washed and ironed. Clothes for Keeps allows the kids to choose what outfits they want in addition to accessories. These clothes are considered “for keeps.” The kids don’t ever have to give the clothes back as they transition to different living arrangements or back home. For some kids this is their first time ever shopping and may be the only chance they have to make their own decisions while they remain in the custody of Child Protective Services and foster care.

Clothes for Keeps will be mobile. Currently, Stacie is using her home with the assistance of volunteers to collect, care for, store and hand out all the clothes. She will be arranging events around the valley where children in foster care can shop. To enable Clothes for Keeps to go mobile Stacie is hoping for a donation of a large covered trailer, truck, bus or something similar that can be renovated for use.

She is also looking for assistance in website development, grant writing and clothing drives. If you are interested in donating new or gently used clothes or hosting a clothing drive contact Stacie Hawkins at