Animals -> Birds -> Shorebirds -> Phalaropes


Wainwright Inupiat ate Red Phalarope and Red-necked Phalarope, which were easily approached by hunters because they were unafraid of humans [1]. The Hare (Sahtu) reportedly ate Red-necked Phalarope [2] and Red Phalarope was eaten by Mackenzie Delta Inuvialuit [3]. The Red Earth Cree ate a phalarope [4], likely to have been Wilson’s Phalarope.

The Hare boiled, fried, grilled or roasted phalaropes [2]. Phalarope are said to make delicious soup, but were not a very common food. Children are reported to have entertained themselves by stalking phalaropes with slingshots or by throwing rocks [1].


1.         Nelson RK: Hunters of The Northern Ice. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press; 1969.

2.         Hara HS: The Hare Indians and Their World. In. Ottawa: National Museums of Canada; 1980: 95-147.

3.         Friesen TM, Arnold CD: Zooarchaeology of a focal resource: Dietary importance of Beluga Whales to the Precontact Mackenzie Inuit. Arctic 1995, 48(1):22-30.

4.         Meyer D: Appendix I: Plants, Animals and Climate; Appendix IV: Subsistence-Settlement Patterns. In: The Red Earth Crees, 1860-1960. Volume 1st edition, edn.: National Musem of Man Mercury Series; 1985: 175-185-200-223.

Phalaropes are part of a large family of wading and probing shorebirds including sandpipers, snipes, whimbrels, yellowlegs, woodcocks, godwits, and dowitchers. Phalaropes have a long neck, a long, straight, pointed bill, long legs, and partially webbed feet. In phalaropes, unlike in most other birds, females have a more colourful breeding plumage and are larger and more territorial than males, and are not involved in incubation or feeding young. All phalaropes are migratory, traveling from their northern breeding range to their southern wintering range [1]. In North America, phalaropes include the Red Phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius), breeding in the High Arctic [2], the Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus), breeding throughout most of Alaska and across northern Canada [3], and the Wilson’s Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor), with a more southern breeding range mainly in western provinces and states, but also around the Great Lakes [4]. They are all quite small, but the Red-necked Phalarope is the smallest, weighing between 32 and 40 g, while the Wilson’s Phalarope is the largest, weighing between 50 and 76 g. In their breeding plumage, they all have brownish black upperparts, but the Red Phalarope has a white eye patch and reddish brown neck and underparts, the Red-necked Phalarope has a white throat, a reddish brown neck, and white underparts, while the Wilson’s Phalarope has a white band above the eyes and white cheeks and underparts [2-4].


1.         Richards AJ: Seabirds of the Northern Hemisphere. Limpsfield: Dragon's World; 1990.

2.         Tracy DM, Schamel D, Dale J: Red Phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius). In: The Birds of North America Online. Edited by Poole A. Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; 2002.

3.         Rubega MA, Schamel D, Tracy DM: Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus). In: The Birds of North America Online. Edited by Poole A. Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; 2000.

4.         Colwell MA, Jehl JJR: Wilson's Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor). In: The Birds of North America Online. Edited by Poole A. Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; 1994.


Distribution maps provided below, unless otherwise stated, were obtained from Birds of North America Online, maintained by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and all pictures provided below were obtained from Encyclopedia of Life
Red Phalarope
Photographer: Bowman, Tim
Red-necked Phalarope
Supplier: Wikimedia Commons
Photographer: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Wilson's Phalarope
© Blake Matheson
Supplier: Flickr: EOL Images
Photographer: Blake Matheson