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Phalaropus fulicarius

Red Phalarope

  • Order: Charadriiformes
  • Family: Scolopacidae

Authors: Contreras-González, A.M., C. Rodríguez-Flores, C. Soberanes-González & M.C. Arizmendi

Life History


It feeds on fish, plankton and invertebrates such as insect larvae, chironomid larvae, amphipods, mollusks, crustaceans, worms, mites and spiders, and occasionally of plants, especially seeds.


It feeds on plankton picking quickly on the water. Also capture prey by dipping its bill or head. When swimming, makes small and fast circles, creating an updraft that brings food from the bottom to the surface. Remains near whales or other animals that drag the plankton to the surface.


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Sexual Behavior

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Social and interspecific behavior

These birds are timid, solitary or gregarious during some part of the year.


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Phalaropus fulicarius builds their nests within walking distance of each other in small colonies. They show no aggressive behavior, and benefit by partnering with other aggressive species such as Sabine´s Gull (Xema sabini) to protect against predators. The females copulate with several males, and it is they, who are responsible for building the nest, incubate the eggs and care for chicks.

The breeding season begins in late June and ends in August. It has a single brood per year. The nest is on the ground, on slightly elevated sites in clusters of pasture in crests or rocky shores, or on small islands. The nest is a deep cavity, in open areas are lined inside with plant fragments, their nest in grassland areas are lined with dry grass and covered with grass on top. It breeds in the tundra, in areas with deep wells and lagoons, also near the coast or on offshore islands with freshwater wells. Puts 3 eggs, rarely 4, oval, smooth, slightly shiny, bright olive to green, usually with many black and pale purple marks, measuring 30 x 22 mm. Incubation lasts 18 to 20 days. The chicks are precocious and are born covered with buff yellow down above and gray below, with patterns of lines and points on the body, bill gray-yellow and legs pale gray. The chicks are independent up the 16 to 20 days old.

Populations and Demography

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Recommended Citation

Contreras-González, A.M., C. Rodríguez-Flores, C. Soberanes-González & M.C. Arizmendi. 2010. Red Phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: