Support
Subscribe
Subscribe to BirdNote

Sign up to receive a weekly email preview of the following week's shows!

Sign Up
Support BirdNote

Help BirdNote tell more stories, reach more people, and inspire action.

DONATE

You are here

Red-necked Phalaropes, Spinners on the Sea

Another fascinating strategy birds use to survive and thrive

If you’re ever lucky enough to see a Red-necked Phalarope, keep an eye out for its delightful method of feeding. The birds twirl on the surface like little ballerinas, spinning and pecking, again and again. As they spin, the phalaropes force water away from the surface, causing an upward flow from below. And with this flow comes food.

Support for BirdNote comes from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, offering online courses about birding. With a new nature journaling course at Academy.AllAboutBirds.org.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®

Red-necked Phalaropes, Spinners on the Sea

Written by Dennis Paulson

This is BirdNote.

[Calls of Red-necked Phalaropes and sound of wind on the ocean]

Red-necked Phalaropes are sandpipers that make their living from the sea. They breed on the arctic tundra but then migrate to the open ocean, where they’ll stay through the winter, feeding on tiny crustaceans and other marine animals.

You’ll be lucky to ever see one of these little birds, but if you do it’ll probably be on a shallow  arctic lake. Stay and watch for a bit and you may see the phalaropes’ wonderfully unique  method of feeding.

The birds twirl on the surface like little ballerinas, spinning and pecking, again and again.

[Calls of Red-necked Phalaropes]

As it spins, the phalarope forces water away from the surface, causing an upward flow from as deep as a foot below. And with this flow comes food. Little animals, like tiny fly larvae, are forced to the surface. Then the phalarope quickly opens its bill, creating another rapid movement that pulls its prey into the back of its mouth.

One of the rewards of observing birds closely is that you see the fascinating strategies they use to survive and thrive.

[Calls of Red-necked Phalaropes]

See Red-necked Phalaropes in action, on our website, BirdNote.org.

I’m Michael Stein.

Support for BirdNote comes from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, offering online courses about birding. With a new nature journaling course at academy dot all about birds dot org.

###
Producer: John Kessler
Managing Producer: Jason Saul
Editor: Ashley Ahearn
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
Assistant Producer: Mark Bramhill
Narrator: Michael Stein
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by G. Vyn. Ambient sound by Kessler Productions.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
© 2019 Tune In to Nature.org     September 2012 / 2015 / 2019

ID# 092606RNPHKPLU                     RNPH-01d

Sights & Sounds

Related topics:

Home
Shows
Galleries
More