The Arctic shorebird species where dads do all the parenting!
What you need to know about the Red Phalarope
Our Expert Says… "As well as their unusual mating behaviors, phalaropes are remarkable transequatorial migrants. In fact, the birds you see on your Arctic cruise could well be found in winter off the coast of Peru. A great tip to encourage these birds - get into shallow water yourself and walk around in small circles. Phalaropes will often come out of cover then to see what you are 'feeding' on!"
The red phalarope is a wading bird that breeds in the arctic regions of North America and Eurasia.
Red phalaropes grow to about 20cm (8”) in length with 43cm (17”) wingspans. They have a straight bill and, like coots, have lobed toes on each foot. Their breeding plumage is dark brown and black to the back and upperparts, with red underparts and a white flash at the cheek. Their straight bill is yellowish in color and tipped with black. Females are more brightly colored than males.
Red phalaropes can sometimes be confused with the similar-sounding red-necked phalarope. The key differentiator is the deep chestnut, almost-red neckband, and a white wing flash.
Red phalaropes have a distinctive feeding technique in shallow water. They swim in tight circles, using their lobed feet to create a small vortex or whirlpool. They will then feed on the edges of the whirlpool where small insects and crustaceans have been brought up from the bottom by the vortex.
Phalaropes are fascinating for their breeding behavior. In these species, the usual roles of males and females in birds are reversed! Female phalaropes compete for territories, pursue the males, and defend the nest. Once they have laid their eggs, they leave for their migration south with the males remaining to incubate the eggs and look after the young chicks until they fledge.
The red phalarope and red-necked phalarope are both very approachable and prime candidates for a close encounter! Your expert naturalist guides will help you to identify both species as well as helping you to observe some of their fascinating behavior.