Living Bird Magazine
Red PhalaropePhalaropus fulicarius
- ORDER: Charadriiformes
- FAMILY: Scolopacidae
A brilliant red bird with a white face and yellow bill in summer, the Red Phalarope becomes a subdued gray-and-white speck on the open ocean in the nonbreeding season. This transformation helps explain the name often used for this species in Europe: “grey phalarope.” One of only a couple of truly ocean-going shorebirds, Red Phalaropes flock with and closely resemble Red-necked Phalaropes. Look for Red Phalarope’s chunkier shape, thicker bill, and smooth, unstreaked gray back.More ID Info
- grey phalarope
- Falaropo Picogrueso (Spanish)
- Phalarope à bec large (French)
- Cool Facts
- Red Phalaropes sometimes gather around gray and bowhead whales to feed in the plumes of muddy water the great mammals stir up. Whalers once called Red Phalaropes “bowhead birds” and looked for the flocks when searching for whales.
- In phalaropes, it’s the females that are the more brightly colored sex. They get into fierce fights over the males they want to mate with. Then after they’ve laid their eggs, they take no part in raising the young and often seek out another male and lay another clutch.
- The oldest recorded Red Phalarope was a male, and at least 8 years old when it was captured and then re-released at a banding station in Alaska.