Phalarope, a shore bird. Phalaropes are 8 to 10 inches (20–25 cm) long. At breeding time, the female has more colorful plumage than the male, with darkish upper parts marked with light, and white or purplish-red lower parts. In winter, both sexes are dull gray and white. Phalaropes have individually webbed toes, and are good swimmers. Their bills are long and pointed. They feed on animal life of water and shore, and the seeds of water plants.
The female phalarope does the courting. The male builds the nest and incubates the eggs. The nests are depressions in sand or grass, sometimes lined with dried grass. There are usually four brown-speckled buff or pale-olive eggs.
Wilson's phalarope breeds in North America and winters in South America. The northern phalarope and the red phalarope breed in the arctic regions. The northern phalarope winters as far south as central South America and Arabia. The red phalarope winters south to southern South America and Africa.
Phalaropes make up the family Phalaropodidae. Wilson's phalarope is Steganopus tricolor; the northern, Lobipes lobatus; the red, Phalaropus fulicarius.