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Red-necked Phalarope

Phalaropus lobatus

Length: 8 inches Wingspan: 14.5 inches Seasonality: Migrant
ID Keys: White throat and red neck in spring.  In the fall, gray above and white below, with white face and black eye patch.

Red-necked Phalarope - Phalaropus lobatusThe Red-necked Phalarope are primarily birds of the northern tundra in the summer, and of the open ocean in the winter.  However, small numbers do migrate through the interior of the country.  Like other phalaropes, they can often be seen spinning on the surface as they feed. The photo on the right depicts both a Red-necked Phalarope and a Wilson's Phalarope.  The Red-necked is the bird on the left.

Habitat: Breeds on marshy tundra.   In migration inland, they are most common on ponds or lakes with abundant insects, a preference that also includes sewage ponds.  During winter, most winter well offshore, concentrating on areas of upwelling water. 

Diet: Primarily feeds on insects on its summer breeding grounds.  During migration and in winter, will also feed on small crustaceans and mollusks, as well as plankton.

Behavior: Feeds in typical phalarope fashion, swimming and picking food items from the surface or just below.  As with other phalaropes, open spins while foraging, bringing food items closer to the surface.

Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota

Song: Makes a soft twip flight call.

Migration: Summers in northern Canada and Alaska.  Primarily winters in the Southern Hemisphere, with large numbers well off coast to the west of South America. 

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Red-necked Phalarope sightings in South Dakota

Similar Species: Wilson's Phalarope, Red Phalarope

Status: Some evidence of local declines, but they are still fairly common and populations are generally stable.

Further Information: 1) Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Red-necked Phalarope

2) Red-necked Phalarope - Audubon Guide

Photo Information: May 20th, 2014 - Potter's Marsh, near Anchorage, Alaska - Terry Sohl


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Red-necked Phalarope - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Uncommon Migrant.

Additional Red-necked Phalarope Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
 Red-necked Phalarope - Phalaropus lobatusRed-necked Phalarope - Phalaropus lobatusRed-necked Phalarope - Phalaropus lobatusRed-necked Phalarope - Phalaropus lobatus