Red Phalarope

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Scientific Information

Female (left) and male (right) Red Phalaropes.
Red Phalaropes (Phalaropus fulicarius) are the most pelagic species of phalarope. This phalarope breeds in the Arctic regions of North America and Eurasia. It is migratory, and, unusually for a wader, migrating mainly on oceanic routes and wintering at sea on tropical oceans.

The typical avian sex roles are reversed in the three phalarope species. Females are larger and more brightly coloured than males. The females pursue males, compete for nesting territory, and will aggressively defend their nests and chosen mates. Once the females lay their olive-brown eggs, they begin their southward migration, leaving the males to incubate the eggs and care for the young. Three to six eggs are laid in a ground nest near water. The young mainly feed themselves and are able to fly within 18 days of birth.

When feeding, a Red Phalarope will often swim in a small, rapid circle, forming a small whirlpool. This behaviour is thought to aid feeding by raising food from the bottom of shallow water. The bird will reach into the outskirts of the vortex with its bill, plucking small insects or crustaceans caught up therein.

Community Information

Shishmaref

Name

Auksruaq

Spoken Name

Relevant Site Information

Red Phalaropes arrive here around the end of May for breeding. Locals call these swimmers due to their unique style of feeding as they spin in small circles to stir up food.

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