Another rare bird visits Cook, MN

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Red Phalarope

The Red Phalarope is a shorebird, but one that likes to swim about quite a bit. They breed up in the arctic and winter out in the open ocean. Wow, this bird got a little lost wandering all the way to Minnesota.

The Red Phalarope is considered a “casual” bird in Minnesota, that means that it has been reported to the MN Ornithological Union (where such records are kept and archived) only 3 times in the last 10 years. This record is only the 5th time the Red Phalarope has been reported in St Louis County.

Phalaropes are really interesting birds. There are 3 species of Phalarope that can occur in Minnesota, Wilson’s Phalarope, Red-necked Phalarope and the rare Red Phalarope. They reverse roles when raising their families. The female is more colorful and even a little larger. The male raises the chicks after they have hatched.

As I mentioned before, the Red Phalarope winters out on the open ocean far from land. They follow rip tides and upwellings where warm and cold water create currents. They often associate with Whales and eat the same foods that Whales eat.

In the summer they nest on the remote tundra way up north above the arctic circle. This bird that was found in Cook was very tame and unwary of all the birders that were coming to see it. You can tell that they are not familiar with all the dangers that modern civilization entail. They don’t know what people are and as such have no fear of humans.

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