There are only 3 species of Phalarope and I saw them one day at the Santa Clara River Estuary in Ventura, California. It was the first time that I ever saw any of the Phalarope species up close, I was very excited that I was able to watch them foraging for food. These birds are rather small, ranging from 7 to 9 inches, they remind me of sandpipers and yet they don’t…
You can find this delicate beauty migrating both on the ocean and through the interior West. They can form flocks of thousands on ponds and salt lakes. I saw a few hundred one day while I was at the estuary! It picks plankton from the water after swimming lightly around and spinning (probably stirring up the plankton)… Breeds in Alaska and North Canada.
This one is the most pelagic of shorebirds, when they are not at the tundra breeding grounds they are almost always on the open water! Occasionally you will find them coming to shore and even rarely seen inland due to storms. They will forage by picking plankton from the surface. Breeds in Alaska and North Canada.
This tall phalarope is not pelagic, it is better suited for wading than swimming. They breed in marshy potholes from Southwest Canada south to central California, Great Lakes Region and Great Plains. Mostly they will winter in South America. They will visit estuaries and freshwater habitats to forage.