DECEMBER 1, 2013 -
Every few years a Red-necked Phalarope, Phalaropus lobatus,
shows up in the MINWR area and birders from all around the state
hope to find the bird when they make the drive. These
birds nest in the Arctic tundra pools and winter at sea.
While they are known to migrate along both coasts of the US,
they are locally abundant in the fall in the interior west, but
are quite rare inland off the east coast. Western birds
winter in the sea off western South America. The winter
grounds for eastern birds is not well known.
On an HRA field trip on November
15, 2013, Chuck Tague spotted a single Red-necked
Phalarope in a shallow pond about 100 yards past Stop 2 on Black
Point Wildlife Drive. On November 16, while leading our
second field trip of the week-end, he re-spotted the bird and
was able to snap the photos above.
Phalaropes reverse the usual avian
roles. Females are larger and more colorful and take the
lead in courtship leaving the males to tend the nest, incubate
the eggs and care for the young. Unlike any other
shorebird, they forage while swimming, often spinning in circles
in shallow water to create a vortex which brings food closer to
The Red-necked Phalarope is small
and compact with a very thin bill. During breeding, the
female sports a bright orange/red neck and nape with a white
throat and dark cheek. In winter both adults are
white with a dark eye patch and stripe up the back of the neck
and onto the head. The back is dark with white stripes.
Facts above were gathered from
The Sibley Guide to Birds by David Allen Sibley and Lives
of North American Birds by Kenn Kaufman.