Red Phalarope

1/2000s at f8.0, ISO:1000, Canon EOS-1D X w/800mm, x1.4 converter

The Red Phalarope (called Grey Phalarope in Europe) is a small wader. This phalarope breeds in the Arctic regions of North America and Eurasia. It is migratory, and unusually for a wader, migrating mainly on oceanic routes and wintering at sea on tropical oceans. The typical avian sex roles are reversed in the three phalarope species. Females are larger and more brightly colored than males. The females pursue males, compete for nesting territory, and will aggressively defend their nests and chosen mates. Once the females lay their olive-brown eggs, they begin their southward migration, leaving the males to incubate the eggs and care for the young. Three to six eggs are laid in a ground nest near water. The young mainly feed themselves and are able to fly within 18 days of birth. When feeding, a Red Phalarope will often swim in a small, rapid circle, forming a small whirlpool. This behavior is thought to aid feeding by raising food from the bottom of shallow water. The bird will reach into the outskirts of the vortex with its bill, plucking small insects or crustaceans caught up therein. They sometimes fly up to catch insects in flight. On the open ocean, they are found in areas where converging ocean currents produce upwelling and are often found near groups of whales. Outside of the nesting season they often travel in flocks.
Barrow, Alaska