Check the wires. Look it up.

This morning, early, it was foggy in Florida and I learned two new words that begin with the letter “P.”

Yesterday, while birding a weedy field beside a busy highway, three of us encountered a tiny but beautiful butterfly nectaring on a scrubby daisy.
We looked it up and it is called a Phaon Cresent.  Phaon it a Greek word and that sounds  like “Foun.” Even better, there is a Greek myth to go with it….Phaon was an ugly oarsman on the River Styx. Aphrodite needed a ride one day, and she came to the river disguised as an old crone.
Phaon gave her a ride and asked nothing in return. In payment, she gave him some cream which made him beautiful. Who wouldn’t love this myth? And this sweet little butterfly photographed by my friend, France Paulsen? I found Phaon to be a very worthy “P” word.

The Phaon Crescent has a wing span of 1.25 inches
The Phaon Crescent has a wing span of 1.25 inches
The Phainopedia is sometimes called the Black Cardinal

And then, I checked my email and found that a possible phainopepia had been spotted on a power wire on Sanibel. It’s a bird that has never been reported in Florida before, but there was no proof  –no photograph, in other words.
It’s an all black bird that looks like a cardinal or a cedar waxwing. Females are grey and so are juveniles. My husband, also a photographer, joked that the person who sighted it should have “thrown on the brakes and caused and accident to get that shot.” But then, he’s used to me calling out bird possibilities, and he knows to pull over.
Phainopepia is definitely a worthy “P” word. It means “shinning robe” in Greek.  Maybe sometime I’ll see one in a desert state where it eats mistletoe and never wanders out of its area.  Except once in a lifetime, and here’s hoping.

Always check the wires, and always look stuff up. That’s my motto, and I’m sticking with it.


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Retired journalist, writer, editor and teacher. Our lives were lived in the Washington DC area, but I was born in upstate New York. Love nature, birding and reading. Volunteer at Ding Darling NWR . Proud mom of two, married to a wildlife photographer.

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