Great Basin Naturalist


Large numbers of Red-necked Phalaropes migrate overland across the Great Basin in fall, occurring commonly at highly saline lakes. Migrants occur at Mono Lake, California, from mid-July to mid-October. The earliest migrants are adult females, followed several weeks later by adult males, and finally by juveniles. Adults make up ca 75% of the population, with males outnumbering females by 5:4. From 1980 through 1984 an estimated 52,000–65,000 birds passed through the area each year, except in 1983, when only 36,000 were recorded. The low number might be attributable to high mortality on oceanic wintering grounds in the Southern Hemisphere in 1982 associated with the severe El Niño. At Mono Lake the phalaropes concentrate near the shore and feed almost exclusively on brine flies. The migrants neither gain much weight nor accomplish much molt during their sojourn, which suggests that the average stay is only a few days. Some aspects of the molt pattern differ from those reported elsewhere.