Wilson's Phalarope

1/1600s at f8.0, ISO:1250, Canon EOS-1D X w/800mm, x1.4 converter


Wilson's Phalaropes are unusually halophilic (salt-loving) and feed in great numbers when on migration on saline lakes such as Mono Lake in California and the Great Salt Lake of Utah, often with Red-necked Phalaropes. When feeding, a Wilson's 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. 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 eggs, they begin their southward migration, leaving the males to incubate the eggs. Three to four eggs are laid in a ground nest near water. The young feed themselves. Although very common, this bird's population may have declined in some areas due to the loss of prairie wetland habitat. A few staging areas are of critical importance during migration.
Walden, Co
 
05/16/2013