Life Histories of North American Shore Birds: Order Limicolae (Part 1)

Life Histories of North American Shore Birds: Order Limicolae (Part 1)

Life Histories of North American Shore Birds: Order Limicolae (Part 1)

Life Histories of North American Shore Birds: Order Limicolae (Part 1)

Excerpt

By ARTHUR CLEVELAND BENT Of Taunton, Massachusetts

Family PHALAROPODIDAE, Phalaropes

PHALAROPUS FULICARIUS (Linnaeus)

RED PHALAROPE

HABITS

The female red phalarope in her full nuptial plumage is, to my mind, the handsomest, certainly the most richly colored, of the three known species of phalaropes. The species is cosmopolitan, with a circumpolar breeding range; it is apparently homogeneous throughout its wide range except for a local race, breeding in Spitsbergen, which has been separated and named Phalaropus fulicarius jourdaini Iredale; this race is said to have paler edgings on the back, scapulars, and tertials. The species is commonly known abroad as the grey phalarope, an appropriate name for the bird in its winter plumage, in which it is most often seen.

It is less often seen in the United States than the other two species; its summer home is so far north that it is beyond the reach of most of us; and at other seasons it is much more pelagic than the other species, migrating and apparently spending the winter far out on the open sea, often a hundred miles or more from land. It seldom comes ashore on the mainland except when driven in by thick weather or a severe storm. Hence it is an apparently rare bird to most of us. But in its arctic summer home it is exceedingly abundant. Alfred M. Bailey (1925) says that "this was the most abundant of the shore birds at Wales, as at Wainwright, Alaska. As a person walks over the tundra there is a continual string of those handsome birds rising, from the grass." Again he writes:

At Whalen, near East Cape, Siberia, we saw thousands of these beautiful little fellows on July 11. The day was very disagreeable, with a strong . . .

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