Family Sandpipers, Snipes, Phalaropes (Scolopacidae)

Least Concern

Wilson's Phalarope (Steganopus tricolor)


French: Phalarope de Wilson German: Wilsonwassertreter Spanish: Falaropo tricolor

Steganopus tricolor


, 1819,





N Alberta and EC California E to Great Lakes area, with scattered small outlying populations from SE Alaska to James Bay and New Brunswick and S to New Mexico and Texas. Winters mainly in Peru, W Bolivia, Chile and NW Argentina; also Ecuador, Uruguay and S to Tierra del Fuego, and Galapagos Is.

Descriptive notes

22–24 cm; male 30–110 g, female 46–128 g; wingspan 35–43 cm. Largest phalarope (c. 15% larger than Phalaropus fulicarius), with longest legs... read more


Not heard frequently, but may give soft nasal or deep, hollow grunts, rendered “pook”, in non-... read more


Breeds mostly in wetlands in prairie region, up to taiga region, on grassy plains, often grazed or... read more

Food and feeding

Small, mostly aquatic, invertebrates, especially dipteran flies, bugs, beetles and their larvae, crustaceans, spiders and some seeds. At... read more


Lays early May to late Jun, with such variability sometimes evident in same region. Usually monogamous; 0–11% of females polyandrous... read more


Migratory. After breeding, adults migrate to large hypersaline lakes in W North America to moult... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Total population estimated at 1,500,000 during autumn 1988, but not more than 1,000,000 in 1994, with an estimated 172,000 pairs in... read more

Recommended citation

Van Gils, J., Wiersma, P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Wilson's Phalarope (Steganopus tricolor). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 30 March 2020).