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Wilson's Phalarope Phalaropus tricolor


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Wilson's Phalarope, breeding male
credit: Len Blumin/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Scolopacidae, Sandpipers view all from this family

Description ADULT breeding Female is stunning, with black and maroon stripe on side of neck and peachy orange throat and chest. Back is gray and maroon, underparts are mostly white. Summer male is similar, but darker overall and less colorful. ADULT WINTER Has pale gray upperparts and whitish underparts. JUVENILE Recalls winter adult, but upperparts are brownish, back feathers with pale margins.

Dimensions Length: 9" (23 cm)

Habitat Nests beside muddy ponds, shallow lakes, and reservoirs; common and widespread in west but breeding range in wast is restricted. Winters in South America and migrants gather in large numbers on saline lakes in southwest (outside range of this book) to molt prior to migration.

Observation Tips Enchanting to watch during nesting season on suitable pools within breeding range. Scarce during migration in east.

Range Florida, Plains, California, Eastern Canada, Great Lakes, Northwest, Alaska, New England, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Mid-Atlantic, Texas, Western Canada, Southeast

Voice Utters soft croaking calls.

Discussion Elegant shorebird with needlelike bill. Like all phalaropes, has lobed feet used for swimming (often spins) and exhibits sex role reversal: more colorful female courts male who incubates eggs.