Wilson's Phalarope

Phalaropus tricolor




Sandpipers, Phalaropes (Scolopacidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Buff with brown blotches.

Number of Eggs:


Incubation Days:

18 - 21

Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

On ground.

Nest Material:

Lined with grass.





Wilson's Phalarope: Medium-sized long legged sandpiper with gray-brown upperparts and thick, red-brown streaks on back and shoulders. Underparts are white with red-brown markings on upper sides; gray crown, white face; black eye line that continues down neck. Bill is black and needle like. Wings are gray with darker flight feathers. Tail and rump are white. Female is brighter, has pale gray crown and grayer upperparts. Winter adult resembles female but lacks red-brown markings on neck and back; eye stripes end at back of head.

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.

Breeding and Nesting

Wilson's Phalarope: Four buff eggs with brown blotches are laid in a ground scrape lined with fine grass. Incubation ranges from 18 to 21 days and is carried out by the male.

Foraging and Feeding

Wilson's Phalarope: Their diet includes the larvae of mosquitoes and crane flies, brine shrimp and the seeds of various aquatic plants. Generally they forage by probing the mud with their bill; they also forage while swimming, sometimes turning in circles to create a vortex, bringing small invertebrates to the surface. They mostly forage visually, except when probing soft substrate.


Wilson's Phalarope: Utters deep, nasal "work work" on breeding grounds.

Similar Species

Wilson's Phalarope: Red-necked Phalarope has dark head and back. Lesser Yellowlegs has yellow legs and streaked underparts.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The crown is the top part of the birds head.
Eye lineX
The line of feathers just in front of and behind the eyes. It extends back from the posterior angle of the eye. This can be a useful trait used in identification in the field since it is very noticeable.
Flight feathersX
Located on the wing, and collectively called remiges (singular, remex). The long stiff feathers are subdivided into two major groups based on the location and are called primaries and secondaries.
The area between the uppertail coverts and the back of the bird.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X