Red-necked Phalarope, Phalaropus lobatus


Red-necked Phalarope
The birds above and below are females in breeding plumage, migrating to their nesting grounds in the arctic tundra. (See below for one that has made it there.) Phalaropes reverse the usual pattern of sexually dimorphic birds, with these females slightly larger and to a variable degree more brightly colored than the males, which do most of the incubation and feeding of the young birds. Males usually look more brown above, females more dark gray; both have orange streaks down the back. Most differences between the sexes are matters of degree, with a similar plumage pattern, but the chestnut neck streak comes to or very close to the eye in males, ends on the nape in females.

Red-necked Phalarope


Red-necked Phalarope
Above, a male in breeding plumage that has reached those nesting grounds in the arctic tundra, in this case on the outskirts of Nome, Alaska. Note the chestnut neck streak reaching to the eye in this bird, and also the one below, in migration near San Francisco Bay, showing the typical male brownish feathering on crown and flanks, in contrast to the dark gray of the female. The differences between the sexes in breeding plumage are less in this species than in the Red or Wilson Phalaropes, so that there are intermediate cases where sex can be disputed.


Red-necked Phalarope

Red-necked Phalaropes
A flock of Red-necked Phalaropes migrating northward across the open ocean in spring, with red on necks and orange streaks on back, visible at this distance.


Red-neceked Phalarope
This is an adult almost fully molted to basic (winter) plumage.


Red-necked Phalarope
The bird above is in full juvenile plumage; the rest of the pictures below show varying stages of molt from juvenile to first basic (first winter) plumage.

Red-necked Phalarope



Red-necked Phalarope


Red-necked Phalarope
We usually see phalaropes swimming, but here's one standing...


Red-necked Phalarope
...and here's one flying.