BIRDS OF NEW ENGLAND AND EASTERN NEW YORK - HOFFMANN

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PHALAROPES : FAMILY PHALAROPODIDÆ

Two Phalaropes occur off the coast of New York and New England. Sometimes they are blown inland in large flocks, but they are generally found many miles from land, feeding on floating sea-weed or swimming lightly on the ocean, but rising and flying off like sandpipers, when disturbed by the approach of a vessel. The female Phalarope is larger and more brightly colored than the male; she is said to do the courting, and to leave the task of incubation to the male.


NORTHERN PHALAROPE. Phalaropus lobatus
7.75 in. Bill .85 in.

Ad. ♀ in summer.— Top and sides of head and upper back bluish-gray; sides of neck rich rusty brown; wings dark, with a bar of white; throat white; breast bluish-gray, tinged with rich rusty brown; belly white. Ad. ♂ in summer.— Similar, but duller; upper parts blackish-brown, streaked with buff. Ad. ♂ and ♀ in winter.— Forehead, stripe over eye, and under parts white; top of head, back, and wings grayish. Im.— Similar, but upper parts blacker; breast washed with brownish.

The Northern Phalarope is a regular migrant along the sea-coast in May, August, and September, but occurs generally so far out at sea that it is rarely observed from the shore. It is only when blown out of its course by storms that it is seen in the outer bays and harbors, or off the beaches. Occasionally it is found some distance inland, particularly on the lakes of Maine. Large flocks of Phalaropes are often observed from vessels crossing to the Maritime Provinces or from trans-Atlantic liners. The birds ride easily or gracefully on the water, or when disturbed rise and fy off in a compact body, their long wings and manner of flight reminding one at once of their relationship to the sandpipers. They are called “Sea-geese” by the fishermen, from their habit of stretching out their long necks when alarmed.

To distinguish the Northern Phalarope from the following species, when not in the breeding plumage, is difficult, especially at sea, where absolute size counts for so little. The Red Phalarope shows more black on the top of the head and in the wings, and is much less frequently seen near the shore.

RED PHALAROPE. Crymophilus fulicarius
8.12 in. Bill .87 in.

Ad. ♀ in breeding plumage.— Top of head black; patch about eye white; back streaked with black and yellowish-brown; wings black and white; throat bluish-slate; rest of under parts deep pinkish-cinnamon; rump tinged with same. Ad. ♂ in breeding plumage.— Resembles the ♀, but duller; the black on the crown marked with yellowish-brown. Ad. ♀ and ♂ in winter.— Forehead white; crown black, streaked with white; hind neck grayish-brown; middle of back dark gray; wings black and white; under parts white. Im.— Similar, but with more black and yellowish-brown on the back.

The Red Phalarope occurs, like the preceding species, as a spring and fall migrant, far out at sea, and is only rarely blown in by severe storms. In breeding plumage it is easily recognized, but in the fall it is hard to distinguish it from the preceding species except by its greater size.


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