Red-Necked Phalarope Facts!

Compiled by Malcie Smith RSPB Fetlar

Red-necked phalaropes are very common birds in the Arctic – perhaps as many as 2 Million pairs.
But we think this number is going down

They sometimes spin around in circles on pools – we think they do this to create a whirl of water called a vortex, which helps to bring food up to the surface of the water

The chicks can walk and swim and feed themselves only a day after hatching 

But, they are very rare in Britain, with maybe only 40 or so pairs most years. Most of these are in the extreme north and north-west of Scotland – Shetland and the Hebrides

The females are bigger, more colourful and more aggressive than the males

Each male looks after four tiny eggs and chicks. He incubates the eggs for about 18 days – he has to  leave the eggs quite regularly to feed and preen

They are in Shetland for a very short period (late May – early August) where they nest in really wet, boggy mires. When they are here, they mostly eat insects, such as flies and midges

The male incubates the eggs and looks after the chicks – he gets no help from the female

The chicks are tiny and extremely cute – they are a bit like bumble bees but with 2 very long legs

They spend most of the year at sea, where they eat plankton

They grow their first feathers and can fly in only 20 days after hatching

They are very beautiful birds, especially the females and are often described as “dainty” or “elegant”