1. English and Scientific names:  Red-necked Phalarope, Phalaropus lobatus

2. Number of individuals, sexes, ages, general plumage (e.g., 2 in alternate plumage):

1 in transitional to non-breeding plumage (there seemed to be a dark patch on the neck that would not be there in non-breeding plumage)


3. Locality: LOUISIANA: (parish)   Vermilion


Specific Locality:  pond on north side of Larry Ave. near intersection with LA 699 (just north of Kaplan, LA)


4. Date(s) when observed:  October 17, 2011

5. Time(s) of day when observed:  2:15 – 3:45 PM

6. Reporting observer and address:  Jeffrey W. Harris, 1967 Tulip Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70806

7. Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s):  Kevin Morgan

8. Other observers who independently identified the bird(s):  Paul Conover

9. Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light):  The bird was positioned between us and the afternoon sun, making it highly back lit.  This made discernment of details of back and face nearly impossible.

10. Optical equipment (type, power, condition):  10 x 50 binocular; spotting scope with variable magnification eyepiece

11. Distance to bird(s):  80-100 yards

12. Duration of observation:  concentrating on the bird was during a 30-40 minute period; periodic looks thereafter while counting other birds.

13. Habitat:  agricultural pond in rice growing country.  Note:  this was the only pond with water in the immediate vicinity because of drought conditions.

14. Behavior of bird / circumstances of observation (flying, feeding, resting; include and stress habits used in identification; relate events surrounding observation):  The bird was observed feeding along the western shore of this pond.  It swam along the shoreline, with frequent reversals of direction.  It probably covered almost 2/3 the length of this pond during our observation period.  The bird never made the circular swimming often seen in phalaropes, but the quick and snappy turns followed by reaching for food items was unlike other birds on the pond (e.g. dowitchers, yellowlegs, large plovers).  As it swam, the head was held forward of the body as if leaning into the direction of movement, and there were frequent pumps of the neck and head as if to get momentum (kind of like an American Coot swims).

15. Description (include only what was actually seen, not what "should" have been seen; include if possible: total length/relative size compared to other familiar species, body bulk, shape, proportions, bill, eye, leg, and plumage characteristics. Stress features that separate it from similar species):  Our view was mostly of silhouette in nature – the distance and back lighting were too great to overcome with our optics.  We saw a bird that seemed slightly smaller than a Lesser Yellowlegs swimming erratically on the water without the legs being visible.  The bird had a short thin neck with a smallish head (relative to the proportions of a dowitcher).  On a couple of occasions, a dark eye line was apparent as the bird turned and sunlight managed to strike the face in a way to illuminate it.  We focused heavily on bill length and determined that it was not longer (and probably slightly smaller) than the head width of the bird in profile.  It was thin and not as thick as shown for the Red Phalarope.  On several occasions the bird fully extended its wings over the body as if to fly or to stretch, revealing a white line bordered by darker areas on either side.

16. Voice: none

17. Similar species (include how they were eliminated by your observation):  The short bill length was too short for a Wilson’s Phalarope, which has a bill nearly 1.5 times the head width in our estimation.  The white markings in the wing suggested either Red-necked or Red Phalarope, but we concluded that the bill was too thin to be a Red Phalarope.  We also had the luxury of knowing the initial ID by Paul Conover.

18. Photographs or tape recordings obtained? (by whom? attached?):  nothing usable to defend the ID (we were just too far from the bird)

19. Previous experience with this species:  none

20. Identification aids: (list books, illustrations, other birders, etc. used in identification):

a. at time of observation:  Sibley, Peterson and National Geographic field guides; as well as The Shorebird Guide by O’Brien et al.

b. after observation:  same as above; plus The Birds of North America at Cornell website

21. This description is written from: _____ notes made during the observation (_____notes attached?);_____notes made after the observation (date:_____); ___X__memory.

22. Are you positive of your identification if not, explain:  Our observation was less than ideal.  So, without some a priori knowledge, I would estimate that our ID could only be about 80-85% reliable.  If nothing else, our report can extend the dates for which the bird was observed.

23. Date:  October 20, 2011  Time:  8:00 PM