Wilson’s Phalarope – A Whirligig Bird

Female Wilson's PhalaropeFemale Wilson’s Phalarope – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 640, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

In early June while in western Montana there was a pair of Wilson’s Phalaropes on a small, privately owned pond near a gravel road foraging for prey that I couldn’t resist photographing. The light wasn’t optimal and because the pond is privately owned I didn’t get out of the pickup to get a lower angle.

As a group phalaropes are collectively known as a “whirligig” because while foraging phalaropes whirl in tight circles that create a vortex in the water which brings small invertebrates to the surface. Imagine seeing flocks of hundreds of thousands phalaropes on the Great Salt Lake twirling & whirling in tight little circles, I can tell you from personal experience that the sight is amazing!

Unlike many other birds where the male is the most colorful in breeding plumage female Wilson’s Phalaropes are larger and more colorful than their male counterparts. Females are the ones who compete for a mate in their beautiful breeding plumage and once they lay their eggs the females leave all the incubation and brood rearing to the male and can go off to find another mate.

Mia

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