Wilson's Phalarope Phalaropus tricolor


Of the three species of Phalarope, this is the landlubber of the group. It is the only one that does not winter in the pelagic zone. Instead, this phalarope is closely tied to alkaline lakes, both during migration and in the non-breeding season. In the United States places such as the Great Salt Lake in Utah, or Mono Lake in California have great densities of this phalarope during the migration. The Wilson’s Phalarope breeds in intermediate latitudes in North America, and like all phalaropes is sex-role reversed with males performing all incubation and care of young. This phalarope is also sometimes polyandrous, with each female having more than one mate. Quickly after egg laying, females abandon the nesting area and migrate south, making them one of the earliest migrants in the continent. They are followed by adult males and then juveniles. In South America they winter in alkaline lakes in the high Andes, as well as alkaline lakes in the interior of Argentina south into Patagonia. Laguna Mar Chiquita, a huge lake in Cordoba Province, Argentina may hold a sizeable part of the wintering population. In the Andes these phalaropes often forage with flocks of flamingos (Phoenicoparrus and Phoenicopterus sp.), feeding on food stirred up by the flamingos in the mud.

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© Dave Herr

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

Recommended Citation

Wilson's Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: https://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/Species-Account/nb/species/wilpha