Posted by: atowhee | January 9, 2023


Recent storms have brought wind, waves, rain, mountain snow, driftwood, and seabirds. Blake Nolan has been checking our Oregon Coast. At Florence his effort and curiosity paid off big-time. Red PhalaropeS–more than a single vagrant. Near the North Jetty. EBird states it succinctly: “The chunkiest and thickest-billed phalarope. Of the three phalaropes, Red is the least likely to be seen inland…Breeds on Arctic tundra. Primarily found on the open ocean during migration and winter; rare inland. Usually in small flocks, but can gather in larger numbers, often in mixed flocks with Red-necked Phalarope. Red is best distinguished by larger size, thicker bill, and slightly paler, smoother-looking upperparts.”

Red is only slightly smaller than Wilson’s, significantly bigger than red-necked, the most common Willamette Valley phalarope during migration.

EBird data shows occasional sightings even east of the Cascades, but the species is only regular offshore, a fixture of fall and winter pelagic trips.

But when strong winds blow it is safer for the bird to go with the air stream than fight it and get tired or injured So a storm that blows through this species’ usual pelagic wintering waters may push some ashore. Like finding a storm-driven jaeger or storm-petrel at an inland lake.

The discovery and images are all to the credit of Blake Nolan. He may have been as surprised as the phalarope themselves who found themselves on land and around shallow pools…?

Red Phalarope breed around the Arctic on coastal tundra. Most actually winter far to the south, in oceans off west coasts of South America ands Africa. Wilson’s Phalarope nest regularly in several marshes of eastern Oregon when conditions allow–Malheur, Klamath, Summer Lake. They are also known to nest at Baskett Slough and other Willamette locations in limited numbers. Much of the population migrates through Mono Lake region, making them a poster-bird for water conservation in that desert region. They are only of the three phalarope species that nest only in North America.

Orange County’s celebrity visitor, its only recorded Snowy Owl in history, continues. Click here.


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