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BC Conservation Data Centre: Species Summary

Phalaropus lobatus
Red-necked Phalarope

Scientific Name: Phalaropus lobatus (Linnaeus, 1758)
English Name: Red-necked Phalarope
Classification / Taxonomy
Scientific Name - Concept Reference: American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. [as modified by subsequent supplements and corrections published in The Auk]. Also available online:
Classification Level: Species
Species Group: Vertebrate Animal
Species Code: B-RNPL
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Craniata Aves Charadriiformes Scolopacidae
Conservation Status / Legal Designation
Global Status: G4G5 (Apr 2016)
Provincial Status: S3B,SNRM (Apr 2023)
BC List: Blue
Provincial FRPA list:   
Provincial Wildlife Act:
COSEWIC Status: Special Concern (Nov 2014)
SARA Schedule: 1  -  Special Concern (May 2019)
General Status Canada: 4 - Secure (2005)
Migratory Bird Convention Act: Y
Ecology & Life History
General Description:
Global Reproduction Comments: Breeding begins late May to early June (Harrison 1978); early to mid-June in far north. Male usually incubates 4 eggs for 22 1/2 days (Terres 1980). Hatching occurs early to mid-July in far north. Young tended by male, can fly at less than 3 wk. Female leaves after male begins incubating eggs or shortly after hatching. Mating system monogamous, or serially polyandrous, sometimes simulataneously polyandrous. Nestlings precocial and downy. Nests in loose colonies.
Global Ecology Comments: Nonbreeding: gregarious, typically in small flocks.
Migration Characteristics:
(Global / Provincial)
    Local Migrant:
    Distant Migrant:
    Within Borders Migrant:
N /
N /
Y /
na /
Global Migration Comments: Migration is primarily across oceans and along coasts. Migrates northward along coasts of North America late March-May; arrives in Beaufort Sea region late May-early June. Migration in North America is mainly along both coasts and regularly but less commonly through western interior. Females leave breeding areas in late June or early July, followed by successful males in late July and juveniles August-early September (Hayman et al. 1986). Fall migration in western interior mid-July to mid-October; large concentrations at Great Salt Lake. Huge flocks occur in migration in Bay of Fundy. Canadian population migrates mainly southwest toward Pacific coast; migration towards Peruvian coast is pelagic south of California (Hayman et al. 1986).
(Type / Subtype / Dependence)
Alpine/Tundra / Alpine/Subalpine Meadow / Unknown
Alpine/Tundra / Tundra / Facultative - frequent use
Grassland/Shrub / Meadow / Facultative - frequent use
Lakes / Lake / Facultative - frequent use
Lakes / Pond/Open Water / Facultative - frequent use
Ocean / Sheltered Waters - Marine / Facultative - occasional use
Wetland / Bog / Facultative - frequent use
Wetland / Fen / Facultative - frequent use
Wetland / Marsh / Facultative - frequent use
Wetland / Swamp / Facultative - frequent use
Global Habitat Comments: In winter: primarily pelagic, sometimes occurring in migration on ponds, lakes, open marshes, estuaries, and bays (AOU 1983), costal lagoons, salinas, sewage ponds. May occur along coast especially during stormy weather. Nests in grass-sedge borders of ponds and lakes (AOU 1983), often far from the sea; wet marshy areas of tundra and in taiga; low arctic and subarctic (coastal and low arctic tundra, northern boreal forest regions). Nest is a depression, lined and domed with grass. See also Rodrigues (1994).
Food Habits: Invertivore: Adult, Immature
Global Food Habits Comments: Feeds on plankton, insects (larvae and adults), crustaceans, and mollusks; CALANUS copepods are the primary food in the Maine-New Brunswick area (see Duncan 1996). Feeds on water, often whirling around in circles (Terres 1980); also may pick food from emergent stones and vegetation. In fall migrations at Mono Lake, California, concentrates near shore, feeds on brine flies (Jehl 1986).
Global Phenology: Diurnal: Adult, Immature
Provincial Phenology:
(1st half of month/
2nd half of month)
Colonial Breeder: Y
Length(cm)/width(cm)/Weight(g): 20/ / 35
Elevation (m) (min / max): Global: 
Endemic: N
Global Range Comment: BREEDS: across low Arctic or Subarctic of the Northern Hemisphere, south to southern Alaska, northwestern British Columbia, northern parts of southern Canadian provinces, Labrador, northern British Isles, Scandinavia, and northern Asia. WINTERS: at sea, mainly south of equator (Godfrey 1966); abundant off coast of Peru, in Indian Ocean, and in South China Sea; accidental in Hawaii; winter range of birds seen in migration in southeastern Canada is not known (Duncan 1996).
Authors / Contributors
Global Information Author: Hammerson, G.
Last Updated: May 04, 1994
Provincial Information Author:
Last Updated:
References and Related Literature
American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1983. Check-list of North American Birds, 6th edition. Allen Press, Inc., Lawrence, Kansas. 877 pp.
Campbell, R.W., N.K. Dawe, I. McTaggart-Cowan, J.M. Cooper, G.W. Kaiser, and M.C.E. McNall. 1990b. The Birds of British Columbia Vol. 2: Nonpasserines: Diurnal Birds of Prey through Woodpeckers. Royal British Columbia Museum, Victoria, BC.
Dittmann, D. L., and R. M. Zink. 1991. Mitochondrial DNA variation among phalaropes and allies. Auk 108:771-779.
Duncan, C. D. 1996. The migration of red-necked phalaropes. Birding (December):482-488.
Godfrey, W.E. 1966. The birds of Canada. National Museums of Canada. Ottawa. 428 pp.
Harrison, C. 1978. A Field Guide to the Nests, Eggs and Nestlings of North American Birds. Collins, Cleveland, Ohio.
Hayman, P., J. Marchant, and T. Prater. 1986. Shorebirds: an identification guide to the waders of the world. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.
Jehl, J. R., Jr. 1986. Biology of red-necked phalaropes (PHALAROPUS LOBATUS) at the western edge of the Great Basin in fall migration. Great Basin Nat. 46:185-197.
Johnson, S. R. and D. R. Herter. 1989. The Birds of the Beaufort Sea. BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc., Anchorage, Alaska. 372 pp.
Morrison, R. I. G., R. E. Gill, Jr., B. A. Harrington, S. Skagen, G. W. Page, C. L. Gratto-Trevor, and S. M. Haig. 2001. Estimates of shorebird populations in North America. Occasional Paper Number 104, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, Ottawa, ON. 64 pages.
Oberholser, H.C. 1974. The bird life of Texas. 2 vols. Univ. of Texas Press, Austin.
Rodrigues, R. 1994. Microhabitat variables influencing nest-site selection by tundra birds. Ecological Applications 4:110-116.
Terres, J. K. 1980. The Audubon Society encyclopedia of North American birds. Alfred A. Knopf, New York.

Please visit the website Conservation Status Ranks for definitions of the data fields used in this summary report.

Suggested Citation:

B.C. Conservation Data Centre. 1994. Species Summary: Phalaropus lobatus. B.C. Minist. of Environment. Available: (accessed Sep 29, 2023).