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Red Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius
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This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Christidis, L.; Boles, W. E. 2008. Systematics and taxonomy of Australian birds. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #
Turbott, E. G. 1990. Checklist of the birds of New Zealand. Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Wellington.

Taxonomic note
Gender agreement of species name follows David and Gosselin (2002a).

Phalaropus fulicaria Christidis and Boles (1994), Phalaropus fulicaria Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993), Phalaropus fulicaria Stotz et al. (1996)

Distribution and population
The Red Phalarope breeds in the Arctic regions of North America and Eurasia, generally wintering pelagically off western South America and western and south-western Africa (Snow and Perrins 1998).

Population justification
The global population is estimated to number c.1,100,000-2,000,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006), while the population in Russia has been estimated at c.10,000-1 million breeding pairs and > c.1,000 individuals on migration (Brazil 2009).

Trend justification
The overall population trend is decreasing, although some populations have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006). This species has undergone a small or statistically insignificant increase over the last 40 years in North America (data from Breeding Bird Survey and/or Christmas Bird Count: Butcher and Niven 2007) Note, however, that these surveys cover less than 50% of the species's range in North America.

Behaviour This species is a full migrant that travels via marine routes and has been observed migrating 80-160 km offshore. Adult females depart from the breeding grounds in early-June, followed by the adult males and juveniles in late-July and August, most arriving in the non-breeding quarters by the end of November. The species departs Chilean and South African seas in March, and West African and south-west African seas in April, migrating along the Arctic coasts and reoccupying breeding grounds from late-May to early-June. It may also wait 2-3 weeks at the edge of sea ice in the High Arctic waiting for the land to thaw before nesting (Snow and Perrins 1998). Once in the breeding grounds the species breeds between June and July (from mid-June to mid-July in Iceland, and from early-June to early-July in Russia). The species is gregarious at all times of the year (Snow and Perrins 1998), and will even breed in loose groups where the habitat is favourable. Habitat Breeding This species breeds close to the coast on marshy tundra with small pools, on boggy meadows with moss and grass, in marshy river valleys, or on islets in fjords. Non-breeding Outside of the breeding season this species is pelagic and frequents upwelling zones in the tropics and subtropics where plankton occurs in high concentrations (e.g. over 50,000 organisms/litre). Diet Breeding During the breeding season the diet of this species consists chiefly of invertebrates, such as adult and larval insects (e.g. beetles, caddisflies, dipteran flies, bugs), molluscs, crustaceans, annelid worms, spiders, mites, jellyfish (Johnsgard 1981) and occasionally plant material (seeds) when animal matter is scarce. Non-breeding During this season the species feeds at sea on plankton, including amphipods less than 2 mm long, Hydrozoa and small fish from the water surface or just below. Breeding site The nest is a shallow cup or scrape on the ground in short vegetation (e.g. sedges or grasses) and is usually close to or surrounded by water (Johnsgard 1981, Snow and Perrins 1998).

Brazil, M. 2009. Birds of East Asia: eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, eastern Russia. Christopher Helm, London.

del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., and Sargatal, J. 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Delany, S.; Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Johnsgard, P. A. 1981. The plovers, sandpipers and snipes of the world. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, U.S.A. and London.

Snow, D.W. and Perrins, C.M. 1998. The Birds of the Western Palearctic, Volume 1: Non-Passerines. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Calvert, R., Ekstrom, J. & Malpas, L.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Phalaropus fulicarius. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Red phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Scolopacidae (Sandpipers, Snipes, Phalaropes)
Species name author (Linnaeus, 1758)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 3,900,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- 2015 European Red List assessment