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Friday, August 24, 2012

Red-necked or Red?

The phalarope show continues near shore.  During the last few days, hundreds have been visible from land.  Yesterday I estimated 350-500 in one sweep of the horizon with binoculars.

Today they were very close to shore, within the foam reflecting off the rocks.  The majority appeared to be juvenile Red-necked Phalaropes (Phalaropus lobatus), but I found a few adult Red Phalaropes (Phalaropus fulicarius), too.  (Apparently, juvenile Red Phalaropes don't arrive in this area until later in the fall.)

Here's a shot of a small group.  All of these images were taken from shore.

The following three images show Red-necked Phalaropes.  Note especially the thin bill, slender neck, and the dark feathers with patterning on the back.

Now study the next three photos of a Red Phalarope.

You've probably noticed that this Red Phalarope is larger, with a thicker neck and thicker bill, and is uniform gray on the back.  In general it has a more robust (less delicate) appearance than the Red-necked Phalaropes. 

Now here are two photos of both species for comparison.  Can you tell which is which?

Well done!  In both cases, the Red Phalarope is on the right.

[You may be wondering where the red is that gives these species their common names.  It's only apparent in breeding plumage.]

Here are two more photos.  (I can't help it!  It's not every day you get to photograph phalaropes.)  The first shows a Red-necked Phalarope in the process of leaping forward to catch something.  I've read that they eat amphipods, euphausiids (krill), mysid shrimp, and fish eggs and larvae.

And this picture is just for fun — photographer's choice?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

excellent lesson to see them together !!