Monday, September 17, 2012
What a unique and interesting bird and also very entertaining as well. There are 3 species of Phalaropes found in North America and of these 3 species the Wilson's Phalarope is the most commonly seen. What is interesting about these birds is the fact that their sexual roles are reversed; the females tend to be larger than males and are the more colorful of the species and once they lay the eggs, it is the male's responsibility to do the rest including incubation, hatching and care for the chicks. Unlike sandpipers, Phalaropes have partially lobed feet which allows them to actually swim. Their feeding behavior reminds a person of a spinning top. They spin in circles stirring up food all the while snatching morsels while spinning. They prey on very small insects, crustaceans, larvae, and small shrimps along with some marsh seeds. They will also eat some flying insects as well. When I was a Glendale Recharge Ponds on Saturday, the Wilson's Phalaropes were very abundant and unfortunately in Arizona we almost always only see them in their winter plumage, but what their winter plumage lacks in color, they most certainly make up for in the entertainment department. We also had a few Red-necked Phalaropes on the ponds, but they were further out in the water, while the Wilson's did not seem to mind us standing close by and watching them feed.
Below is a series of photos of some of the Wilson's in their feeding frenzy. Obviously not as good as a video would have been, but the photos gives one an idea of their unique feeding style.
Really need to learn how to use the video function on my camera so in the future I can get a video clip of these fascinating birds.