Phalaropus lobatu

DescriptionRed Necked Phalaropes are seen on a whale watching boat tour with Eagle Wing Tours in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada on Vancouver Island.

A sparrow-sized swimming shorebird with a conspicuous wing stripe measuring seven inches (18 cm). Breeding adults have dark head and back, white chin and belly separated by chestnut upper breast and sides of neck. Females more boldly patterned than males. In winter, darker above, with dark line through eye and usually with dark crown, and entirely white below. Bill thin.

Habitat

Breeds on tundra pools; visits open ocean, beaches, flats, and lake and river shores during migration.

Nesting

Four olive eggs, spotted with brown, in a slight hollow on the ground in marshy tundra.

Range

Breeds in Alaska and across northern Canada. Migrates along both coasts, more rarely in interior, and winters mainly at sea in the southern hemisphere. Also in Old World.

Voice

A sharp twit or whit.

Discussion

Among phalaropes, the female has brighter plumage, and the male incubates the eggs and cares for the young. Red-necked phalaropes, like red phalaropes but unlike other shorebirds, prefer to swim rather than wade, a habit that enables them to spend the winter on the high seas, although on occasion they wade in pools and feed on mudflats with many other shorebirds. They float buoyantly, picking small creatures from the surface of the water with rapid jabs of the bill, often while swimming in circles or spinning around to stir up the water with their lobed toes.