My Bird Blog: A blog about my birding discoveries, bird feeders, birds on my life lists, and all things bird related

Sue's Bird Blog Archives

Wilson's Phalarope in Tonawanda WMA

Published May 20, 2014
Tags: Life List Happenings, Wilson's Phalarope, Least Sandpiper

After a busy morning of assisting Celeste with the marsh checks out in the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge this morning, I did some other birding out in the area.  I ran into Greg Lawrence who later texted that he found some Short-billed Dowitchers out on paddy #2 in Tonawanda WMA. I quickly texted Celeste and we met up again there to see if we could find the shorebirds. 

We both scanned and scanned through the mud and weeds, finding many Least Sandpipers and some Lesser Yellowlegs, but we had no luck finding the dowitchers. As we were close to giving up, Celeste spotted a Wilson's Phalarope out near a group of Least Sandpipers!  Being a life bird for me - and the last of the 3 phalaropes I needed - I was pretty excited!

This bird was a male and, in spite of his plainer appearance (with phalaropes, the females are the more colorful), he still looked very handsome to me.  This particular species of phalaropes has a long, very fine, dark bill and  is the largest of the three phalarope species: Red, Red-necked, and Wilson's.

Apparently, the Wilson's Phalarope is known to be pretty tame and approachable, so we slowly advanced, taking photos all the way.  We were able to get fairly close to it and got some nice opportunities to study its partially lobed feet, slightly red-tinted neck, and its nervous method of jabbing for mosquitoes or aquatic plant seeds as it foraged out on the mud flat. It was a great experience and I'm so glad I got to take my time and get to know this life bird!
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Wilson's Phalarope (male)
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Wilson's Phalarope
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Wilson's Phalarope
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Wilson's Phalarope
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Wilson's Phalarope
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Wilson's Phalarope
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