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Time for Phalaropes

The three species of phalaropes are shorebirds who forage mostly on the water’s surface where there is a midge hatch occurring. First to appear at Chico are Wilson’s Phalarope followed by Red-necked Phalarope (photo). Phalaropes are in the shorebird family and females are more brightly colored than males which suggests something interesting goes on during breeding. After laying eggs females rarely return to the nest. Males assume all the duties of incubating eggs and raising the young. An uncommon bird in migration most migrate offshore during spring and fall migrations and they breed in the high arctic of Alaska and Canada. While feeding, Red-necked Phalaropes spin in a circle creating a vortex which brings invertebrates to the surface where the phalaropes glean food or they use their very thin bills to probe just below the surface of the water. Red-necked is the smallest phalarope.

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