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The Ivory Bill·Birds·Shorebirds

Red Phalaropes, Phalaropus fulicarius

Red phalaropes in water

Red Phalaropes are shorebirds that breed in Arctic tundra regions of North America and Eurasia from June to July.

Red Phalaropes are commonly found in coastal tundra with shallow pools and marshy areas, where aquatic insects, crustaceans, and mollusks are abundant during the breeding season.

They forage in shallow freshwater pools, ponds, and wet tundra for aquatic insects, larvae, small crustaceans, and other invertebrates. They may also feed on small fish and plant material.

Red Phalaropes exhibit unique feeding behavior by swimming in small circles to create whirlpools that bring prey to the surface. Their specialized bills are adapted for picking prey from the water.

Courtship involves females performing aerial displays and vocalizing to attract males. Females, being more brightly colored, take the lead in initiating courtship, a role reversal compared to most birds.

Nests are built by males in shallow depressions on the ground, lined with grasses, moss, and other tundra vegetation. Nests are typically situated near water sources in low vegetation.

Egg laying occurs from June to July, with females laying 3-4 eggs. Incubation is carried out by males and lasts about 18-20 days. Upon hatching, chicks are precocial and leave the nest shortly after to follow the male parent. Initial diets include small aquatic invertebrates provided by the male.

Chicks learn to forage under the male’s supervision, initially relying on him to find food. As they grow, they begin to forage independently but are vulnerable to predation and extreme weather conditions.

Fledging occurs at about 18-21 days, with continued guidance from the male parent. Juvenile diets gradually expand to include a wider range of aquatic invertebrates as they develop foraging skills.

Migration begins in late summer, with birds traveling along coastal and offshore flyways to wintering regions in the southern oceans, including off the coasts of South America and Africa.

Wintering habitats include pelagic zones far from land, where they forage in open ocean waters for plankton, small crustaceans, and fish larvae.

Red Phalaropes leave their wintering grounds in late March to early April, returning north to breeding territories.