Common Name

Scientific Name

View Utah Distribution Map

Photo by Bruce Bonebrake
Photo Copyright Bruce Bonebrake

The red-necked phalarope, Phalaropus lobatus, breeds in the arctic regions of Eurasia and North America, and winters at sea south to the Southern Hemisphere. In Utah, it is a common migrant, being more common in fall than in spring. During migration, it can be extremely abundant on the Great Salt Lake. Its breeding habitat is tundra, but outside of the breeding season it is found on open water of bays, lakes, ponds, and the ocean. Its foods include aquatic insects, crustaceans, mollusks, and zooplankton.

The red-necked phalarope nests on the ground, usually in a grass tussock near open water. Typically four eggs are laid, and the eggs are incubated solely by the male parent for seventeen to twenty-one days. The young are precocial and are tended by the male parent alone; they become independent after eighteen to twenty-two days.

Like other phalaropes, the usual sex roles are reversed in this species, and females are to some degree sequentially polyandrous, having several mates, each of which they desert as soon as the male begins incubation of the clutch. In addition to the reversal of sex roles, female phalaropes of this and other species are also unusual in having more colorful plumage than do the males.


  • Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birderís handbook[:] a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon & Schuster, New York. xxx + 785 pp.

  • Baicich, P. J., and C. J. O. Harrison. 1997. A guide to the nests, eggs, and nestlings of North American birds. 2nd ed. Academic, San Diego. 347 pp.

  • Peterson, R. T., and V. M. Peterson. 1990. A field guide to western birds, 3rd ed. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 432 pp.