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Phalaropus lobatus

Red-necked Phalarope

  • Order: Charadriiformes
  • Family: Scolopacidae

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

Phalaropus lobatus

Victoria, BC; 16 August 2009 © Glenn Bartley

Of the two pelagic phalaropes, the Red-necked is the smaller one and the one more closely associated with warmer waters. Therefore the main part of its non-breeding distribution is closer to the equator than that of the Red Phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius). Red-necked Phalaropes breed in the Arctic and northern Taiga, and are sex-role reversed as is typical of the group. Females leave the breeding areas earlier than males, and some may already be offshore in the Galapagos by July! This phalarope concentrates in places where ocean waters of different density and temperature come together, as these zones tend to concentrate food. They forage by spinning in circles, creating a vortex that moves the food up and to the center of the vortex, allowing the phalarope to essentially suck up the tiny food bits brought together by its spinning. The exact wintering concentrations of this phalarope are not clearly known. In the Pacific it is thought to be the area between Panama and Peru, as there are nearly no good records of the species as far south as Chile. Their distribution on the Atlantic is even less well known, perhaps offshore from eastern Brazil? Or perhaps Atlantic populations head offshore from Africa during winter? More work is needed to determine where exactly they go. This phalarope sometimes migrates inland in North America, particularly juveniles. In South America they are strictly marine however.

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Recommended Citation

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

This map is based on the maps available from the NatureServe InfoNatura website. The data for these maps are provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE.

  • Migration/Movement:Boreal Migrant
  • Primary Habitat:Pelagic waters
  • Foraging Strata:Water (surface)
  • Foraging Behavior:Surface dip
  • Diet:Aquatic invertebrates
  • Sociality:Single-Species Flocks
  • Mating System:Polyandry
  • Nest Form:Scrape
  • Clutch: -
  • IUCN Status:Least Concern