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Red Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius


The Red Phalarope is known as the Grey Phalarope in Europe, suggesting that the breeding and non-breeding plumages are actually rather different. During breeding this is a largely brick red species, and in the non-breeding season it is a white and grey little seabird. It is the largest phalarope, the one that breeds farthest north in the Arctic and the one that prefers coldest water during the non-breeding season. Red Phalaropes are standard phalaropes during breeding, showing sex-role reversal. Females leave and head south before males, and both before juveniles. However, this species remains farther north for a longer period of time and they perform their entire body molt before heading south. Some remain in northern waters late in the season, into early January in California and it is unclear if these are very late migrants or in fact over-wintering birds. These northern hangers-on are young of the year. A large proportion of the New World population winters in Chilean waters, and relatively far south, making this quite an accomplished migrant heading from Arctic to southern temperate waters! Some remain in North America, largely off Mexico as well as off Florida and in the Gulf of Mexico on the Atlantic side. Their heavier bodies and size probably makes them much more adept at handling rougher weather and winds than the more tropical wintering Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus). This species seldom migrates inland, but in early winter wind storms many may show up on the immediate coast tired and hungry. This is the most strongly pelagic of the phalaropes.

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© Gerrit Vyn

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

Red Phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: