Red-Necked Phalarope

Red-Necked Phalarope

Scientific name: Phalaropus lobatus

Did you know: The Red-Necked Phalarope, a small and delicate wader, has reversed gender roles, with the duller-coloured male taking on the responsibility of egg and chick care!

What Do Red-Necked Phalaropes Look Like? (how to identify them)

Red-Necked Phalaropes are unique among waders for their lobed toes, enabling strong swimming. They exhibit a distinct winter plumage, with a thicker neck and dark bill with a yellow base, and in summer, they showcase a red neck and breast. 

Their brown body, black crown, and whitish cheeks add to their distinctive appearance.

Differences Between Male And Female Red-Necked Phalaropes

The breeding female is more vibrant, with a chestnut neck, upper breast, and black face. The male, responsible for nurturing the young, is a duller version of the female, with less pronounced colours.

What Do Red-Necked Phalaropes Eat?

Their diet mainly consists of insects. Unique in their feeding, they create small whirlpools in water to bring up food, making them efficient foragers.

Where Do Red-Necked Phalaropes Live? (inc. migration info)

Red-Necked Phalaropes breed in the Arctic regions of North America and Eurasia. They migrate to tropical oceans for winter, exhibiting unusual behaviour for a wader. 

In the UK, they’re a rare breeding species and are given special protection.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Red-Necked Phalaropes)

Their calls are sharp, described as a ‘whit’ or ‘twit,’ distinctive to their species. Their vocalisations are a key aspect of their elaborate courtship rituals.

Fun Red-Necked Phalarope Facts (kid friendly)

  • They spin in water to create whirlpools, bringing insects to the surface for feeding.
  • Males take the lead in nurturing eggs and young – a unique reversal of typical bird roles.
  • They’re adapted to spend most of their time on water but can also scurry on land.
  • In the UK, they’re a rare and protected breeding species, making sightings special.
  • They’re migratory, spending winters in tropical oceans – a rarity for waders.
  • The female Red-Necked Phalarope is more brightly coloured than the male.
  • They breed in the Arctic regions but are also seen along the UK coasts in winter.
  • In breeding season, their neck turns a striking red.
  • They use their lobed toes to swim effectively.
  • Red-Necked Phalaropes can be unusually tame around humans due to limited contact.

Facts About The Red-Necked Phalarope

Diet: Mainly insects.
Bird Family: Sandpipers, snipes and phalaropes
Length: 17-19cm
Wingspan: 32-41cm
Weight: 27-48g
Scientific Name: Phalaropus lobatus

The Red-Necked Phalarope Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September