English and Scientific names:

Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus)

Number of individuals: 

2 in mostly juvenal plumage

Locality: LOUISIANA: 

USA:LA:Iberville Par.; Sherburne Wildlife Management Area -- North Farm

Specific Locality:

Impoundment Unit # 10 at Sherburne North Farm26 September 2007

Date(s) when observed:

26 September 2007

Time(s) of day when observed:  

9:31AM to 10:05AM

Reporting observer and address:

Michael A. Seymour

Baton Rouge, LA

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



Other observers who independently identified the bird(s):


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

Overcast/diffuse sunlight; birds were never in direct sunlight, nor were they backlit.

Optical equipment: 

Pentax DCF WPII 10x42 Binoculars; photographed with Canon S1IS Powershot digital point-and-shoot.

Distance to bird(s): 

From 125 m down to 20 m!

Duration of observation:

Approximately 1/2 hour


"Moist soil unit" -- flooded impoundment with areas of shallow, open water and emergent vegetation

Behavior of bird: 

Birds observed feeding together in shallow water.  They were not doing the typical phalarope-vortex feeding, but, instead, swimming around seemingly randomly in one spot.  This odd behavior was observed at a great distance and was my initial tip that the birds might be something interesting (I could already tell they were phalaropes from that distance).  The lack of spinning, of course, does not assist in ID at all, but it did catch my attention.  At one point, the birds flushed, because all the other shorebirds and waders present had been flushed by the noise from my 4-wheeler's engine.  Fearing I'd lose the birds, I squeeked them back in (they responded immediately and landed much closer -- thanks to Donna Dittmann for that tip!).


My initial reaction was, "wow, those look like Red-necked Phalaropes!"  The birds were clearly phalaropes based on size, shape, bill, and behavior -- though Lesser Yellowlegs sometimes "swim" in that same body of water.  They seemed much smaller to me than the Wilson's Phalaropes I had observed a couple of weeks before at Sherburne S Farm. 

Birds had dark auriculars and cap and gray back with pale buffy white lines.  The front of the neck, the breast, and the belly were bright white.  Bill was dark, long, and very thin (appears thicker in photos due to jpeg artifacts). 


The birds did call once or twice in flight, but I could not accurately describe the call other than it was a single note and very quick.

Similar species:

Wilson's Phalarope -- by far the most common phalarope in LA and observed several days before not too far from this site.  Wilson's Phalarope is mostly pale gray and white overall in similar plumages, has a longer, thinner bill, and lacks such a strongly defined ear-patch as found in these birds.  Wilson's also lack the streaks on the backs present on these birds.

Red Phalarope -- highly unlikely based on locale/habitat.  They also have much thicker and shorter bills.  They, too, lack back streaks.

Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

Yes.  Photos and video by Michael A. Seymour.

Previous experience with this species: 


Identification aids:

Called Donna Dittmann at time of observation to make certain of ID.
after observation:  The Shorebird Guide. 2006. O'Brien, Crossley, Karlson.

This description is written from: 

Mostly memory; some from my photos.

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


Yes, I'm positive.


Michael A. Seymour

Date and time: 

27 September 2007 at 1608.