By Jody Allair, Director, Community Engagement
The Red Phalarope is one of the most stunning shorebird species in the world. They nest across the arctic tundra in small wetlands and spend the winter at sea. They devote more time floating on the ocean feeding on zooplankton than they do on land.
Red Phalaropes are dark reddish-brown with a white cheek and a yellow bill, with females being more richly coloured and darker. In winter, they transform into a seemingly different bird with a solid gray back, white undersides and a dark cheek patch.
With Red Phalaropes, once the eggs are laid, the female leaves the male to incubate them and feed the chicks.
The Red Phalarope feeding strategy is to continuously spin around in circles on the water to stir up food. It’s both wonderful and exhausting to watch in person.
Globally, Canada holds a very large proportion of the world’s breeding population of Red Phalaropes. They are categorized as Least Concern by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), but they do have several threats to their population, including climate change and ingesting plastic while on the open ocean.