English and Scientific names:

Red-necked Phalarope

Phalaropus lobatus

Number of individuals: 




Specific Locality:

Near southern terminus of Larry Road, about 3 miles SSW of Indian Bayou

Date(s) when observed:


Time(s) of day when observed:  

From about 10:15 to about 12:00

Reporting observer and address:

Paul Conover

Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s):

Dave Patton

Other observers who independently identified the bird(s)


Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light):

Morning light, sun was low and behind me, field was spread out in good light. 

Optical equipment: 

Zeiss 10s, Nikon d200 w/300 mm lens, Nikon 20-60x Fieldscope III ED

Distance to bird(s): 

Mainly about 100 yards, but it did briefly come to within perhaps 50 yards.     

Duration of observation:

About 1.5 hours


A large shallow ag field pond with wetland plants growing at its margins.   

Behavior of bird: 

The bird was feeding actively while it swam, and taking short flights from one area of the pond to another.  There were thousands of birds present in the ponds, including ducks and dowitchers.  The phalarope worked in and out of the flock and then worked the back edge of the pond moving down the length of the pond.    


A shorebird about the size of a Stilt Sandpiper give or take an inch, much smaller than dowitchers.  The bird swam the entire duration of the observation, including spinning and also making short lurches forward, apparently after prey. 


Overall the bird was very pale.  However, on closer look the back of the bird was fairly dark and contrasted with the rest of the body, most of which was clear white. 


The most obvious feature on the bird was the blackish “phalarope mark,” a broad black arc extending down and back from the eye.  A thin blackish (it appeared blackish from the distance, anyway)  line extended up the center of the nape from the mantle, and broadened onto the crown.  The black crown ended anteriorly at about the level of the eyes.  Otherwise the neck and head were a bright clear white. 


Mantle color was difficult to assess.  I felt that it was a mix of dark gray and buff, not a solid color.  The most obvious feature of the mantle were two buff stripes per side that formed two broad Vs with the wide end pointing dorsally.  Dave also pointed out a feature he saw in a shorebird book, a white spot forward of the bend of the wing, a feature which this bird had.  I only saw the tail and rump one time when I was lucky enough to be ready when it flew.  The rump had a line down the center, and whitish sides.  The tail was dark-ish, but I couldn’t see it very well. 


Underparts white, except for a very pale, almost imperceptible buffy wash around the waterline on the breast.   


Legs not seen, eye was dark and blended into eye mark. 


Bill was long and black, I estimated it at about the length of the head.  The bill was finely pointed.     




Similar species:

Other shorebirds sometimes swim for a short time, and some even spin like phalaropes.  However, the color and markings of this bird and the length of its swim eliminate non-phalarope shorebirds.  Of the phalaropes, Wilson’s lacks the facial pattern of this bird.  Red Phalarope has similar markings but a shorter, blunter bill.         

Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

Bad stills from a video, but I believe enough is visible to eliminate other phalaropes.    

Previous experience with this species: 

I’ve seen many in flight in the Bay of Fundy, but never a bird sitting on water and feeding as this bird did.  

Identification aids:


This description is written from: 


Are you positive of your identification? If not, explain: 



Date and time: