Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus)

The name phalarope comes from the Greek words for coot's foot, due to its lobed toes, which are similar to another bird, the coot.

Description

The red-necked phalarope is sexually dimorphic in the breeding season - the females are more brightly coloured than males, and compete amongst each other to attract their brown coloured, camouflaged mates. These water birds are narrow-necked, small-headed, and have thin, pointed black bills. In the breeding season, males have dark backs with tawny stripes down the wings. Their white head is topped with dark brown and marked with white eye-stripes which meet at the back of the neck and run down the sides of the neck, forming a semi-collar on the neck. Breeding females are coloured similarly to the males, but are brighter. The stripes along the sides of the female’s back are chestnut-orange and the semi-collar around the neck is a darker and richer red than that of the male.

Distribution

The red-necked phalarope occurs in the Low Arctic as well as in the boreal forest. Their winter distributions are poorly known because most of this time is spent at sea. Flocks travel from the centre of the Arctic to either the Atlantic or Pacific coast of Canada before moving on to their wintering areas.

Ecology

These birds usually nest in dense vegetation near freshwater pools. The nests are small, cup-shaped, and well-hidden in the grass. Once the young can fly, the male, who does all the incubating and care-giving, leaves the young, and joins the females to migrate. Both sexes moult into their winter plumage- dark above and white below, with two white stripes along the sides - before the trip