Wilson's Phalarope: Medium sandpiper, gray-brown upperparts, red-brown streaks on back, shoulders. White underparts with red-brown markings on upper sides. Gray crown, white face, black eye-line that continues down neck. Black needle-like bill. Gray wings with dark flight feathers. White tail, rump.
Range and Habitat
Wilson's Phalarope: Breeds in wetlands scattered throughout interior western North America and winters in South America. Preferred habitats include grassy borders of shallow lakes, marshes, reservoirs, and inland saltwater lakes. Found in inland saline lakes of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Peru during winter.
The Wilson's Phalarope was first described in 1819 by Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot, a French ornithologist. Its common name commemorates the American ornithologist Alexander Wilson.
The draining of prairie wetland breeding habitat and the diversion of water from major staging areas pose threats to this colorful shorebird.
This bird is the largest of the phalaropes, and is often very tame and approachable. Unlike the other phalaropes, this species does not have fully lobed toes and so rarely swims, spending no time at sea.
A group of phalaropes has many collective nouns, including a "dopping", "swirl", "twirl", "whirl", and "whirligig" of phalaropes.
The Wilson's Phalarope has a vast range reaching up to around 3.8 million square kilometers. This bird can be found in its native habitats in South America, Central America and North America as well as in vagrant populations from Europe through Asia and Australia among others. This species will appear in forests and grasslands, inland wetlands and intertidal areas such as mud and salt flats. The global population of this bird is estimated to be around 1.5 million individual birds. Currently, it is not believed that the population trends for this species will soon approach the minimum levels that could suggest a potential decline in population. Due to this, population trends for the Wilson's Phalarope have a present evaluation level of Least Concern.