Wilson's Phalarope

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Nature Magazine, August-September 1944

The phalaropes are notable from the fact that, contrary to the general rule among shore birds, the female is the larger and more brightly colored, does most of the courting, and permits the male to undertake all the brooding, and the care of the young. Furthermore, she frequently has two husbands, since apparently there are more males than females.

Wilson's phalarope is found in summer only in our western States and southern Canada, breeding from Washington, southern Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario south to Indiana, Missouri, and Kansas, Colorado, Utah and southern California. It winters from southern Texas, southern California and Mexico south to Argentina and Patagonia. It has not been found anywhere in winter in large numbers.

Although the female takes no part in the task of incubation, and joins the others in small parties while her mate is thus engaged, she retains an active interest in the success of the enterprise, and views any disturbance in the vicinity of the nest with great anxiety, apparently holding herself responsible for the faithful attention to duty on the part of her mate.