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Red Phalarope

Phalaropus fulicaria

Length: 8 to 9 inches Wingspan: 14 to 16 inches Seasonality: Rare Migrant
ID Keys: In spring, chestnut undersides, dark head with white face, and yellow bill.  In fall, much plainer with gray uppersides, white undersides, and black bill.

Red Phalarope - Phalaropus fulicariaThe Red Phalarope is the most pelagic of the phalaropes, spending most of its time well out to sea.  They are only rarely seen from land outside of the summer breeding season in the Arctic, with only a few strays migrating through the interior of the continent.  Like other phalaropes, they will feed by spinning on the water's surface and plucking the small food items that surface.

Habitat: Found on low-lying tundra near the Arctic coast during the summer breeding season.  In migration and in winter, usually found very far out to sea, with only a few migrating through the interior of the continent.

Diet: Summer diet is large insects and insect larvae.  Also eats small mollusks, crustaceans, aquatic worms, plankton, and small fish.

Behavior: See notes above.  Feeds in typical phalarope fashion.

Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota

Song: Sharp twik and a musical clink-clink.

Migration: Summers in the Arctic.  Most winter in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in the Southern Hemisphere, with lesser numbers wintering offshore in the Northern Hemisphere.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Red Phalarope sightings

Similar Species: Red-necked Phalarope, Wilson's Phalarope

Conservation Status: Generally stable throughout its range.

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

2) Audubon Guide - Red Phalarope

3) WhatBird - Red Phalarope

Photo Information: Taken in Spitbergen, Norway, June 2006 by Helge Sørensen


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Red Phalarope - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Rare migrant, with just a handful of records in the state.

Additional Red Phalarope Photos (coming soon!)