© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki. Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Red-necked Phalarope

Phalaropus lobatus

  • Family: Sandpipers – Scolopacidae
  • Appearance: A small slender wader, often seen swimming. Bill very narrow. Pale wing stripe prominent, middle of rump dark brownish. In summer plumage has rusty red patch on neck, in winter plumage very pale.
  • Size: Length 17–19 cm, wingspan 30–34 cm, weight 26–43 g.
  • Nest: On a hummock surrounded by water or a raft made of floating vegetation, lined with dry grass and leaves.
  • Breeding: 4 eggs laid in June, incubated by male for 18–20 days. Fledglings leave the nest soon after hatching and learn to find food for themselves. They learn to fly within about 18–20 days. Females abandon their fledglings to be raised by males, and may also then mate with another male.
  • Distribution: Breeds on the tundra and in high wetlands in Finnish Lapland, also in small numbers in the Suomenselkä region, along the coasts of the Bothnian Sea, and in a separate population in the Kvarken Archipelago. Finnish breeding population estimated at 7,000–9,000 pairs
  • Migration: Mainly by night. Flies south in July–August, returning May–June after wintering in open waters in the Indian Ocean.
  • Diet: Small aquatic insects and their larvae, caught in waters and sediments stirred up by the birds’ movements when swimming.
  • Endangerment: Vulnerable, protected in Finland. Globally Least concern.

In their summer plumage, Red-necked Phalaropes generally appear brownish grey, which is the dominant colour on their caps, cheeks, breasts, flanks and back. Their backs are marked with rusty yellowish streaks, similar to the Jack Snipe, and the feathers on their wing coverts have yellowish brown edges. They have a rusty red patch on their necks. During the breeding season females have brighter colouring than males. Normal gender roles are reversed among phalaropes: females perform courtship displays and abandon their young after they hatch for the males to raise. In their winter plumage, Red-necked Phalaropes are very pale, with pale grey upper parts, and dark colouring only on the rear end of their caps, and in a short black eyes stripe.

Juveniles’ plumage resembles adults’ summer plumage on their backs, but their bellies are yellowish brown with a reddish tinge. They have dark caps and eye stripes similar to those on adults in winter plumage. Red-necked Phalaropes have narrow, needle-like black bills. Their irises are dark brown. Their legs are dark grey (mature birds) or bluish pink. Young birds have yellow webs (lobed toes).

Other species from the same family

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