T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Phalaropus (Wilson's phalarope) Phalaropus tricolor

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Suborder: Scolopaci
Family: Scolopacidae
Genus: Phalaropus
Species: P. tricolor
Binomial name: Phalaropus tricolor
Synonyms: Steganopus tricolour
Common name: Wilson's phalarope

Wilson's phalarope is the largest and most terrestrial of the phalaropes (slender-necked shorebirds). They are unusually halophilic (salt-loving). They have a length of >24 cm and can weight >70 gm. The female breeding plumage is are chestnut-reddish markings on the neck, breast.
When feeding they will often swim in a small, rapid circle, forming a small whirlpool. This behaviour is thought to aid feeding by raising food from the bottom of shallow water.

Wilson's phalaropes have been recorded in New Zealand on four occasions: Manawatu estuary 1983, Lake Ellesmere between November 1983-1984, Taharoa, Waikato in October 2004 and in December 2016 by Adam Clarke in Westshore Wildlife Reserve, Napier.

A female in breeding colours.