Wilson’s Phalarope




Wilson’s Phalarope in South America

Scientific name: Phalaropus tricolor ([1])

Family: Scolopacidae

Spanish name: Falaropo de Wilson

Migration: Nearctic migrant

Population estimate: 1,500,000

Trend: Decreasing

Ramsar Criterion 6 (1% level): 15,000

IUCN Conservation status: Not known to have unfavourable conservation status


Distribution and abundances

During the non-breeding season widely distributed along the Cordillera de los Andes and southern South America, south to Tierra del Fuego. Abundances vary from large flocks in salty (or hypersaline) lakes (up to 500.000), mainly along the High Andes, to smaller groups in inland freshwater marshes, lakes and ponds of Paraguay and within Patagonia and the Pampas of Argentina. Main non-breeding areas in the highlands of Peru, Chile, west Bolivia and northwest Argentina (link to Abundances map). Sites reaching the 1% threshold (Ramsar Convention Criterion No. 6) are Lagunas de Ecuasal (Ecuador), Lago Junín (Peru), Laguna Pastos Grandes (Bolivia), Salar de Surire (Chile), Lagunas Saladas (Paraguay) and Laguna Mar Chiquita (Argentina; with an historic estimate of 500,000 birds).


Migration and seasonality

Arrives to the western coast of South America by August, migrating south along the High Andes Flyway to reach the main non-breeding sites by late September to early November. This phalarope remains in South America until April. Migration occurs mainly along the High Andes and the Pacific Flyways. Many non-breeders remain in South America during the northern summer (link to Seasonality map).



Mudflats and shallow open waters of hypersaline, blackish and alkaline lakes along the High Andes. Also recorded in freshwater wetlands within the Pampas and Patagonia. Less common in coastal areas and rice fields.


Habits and interactions with human activities

Highly gregarious in High Andes lakes and salty or saline lagoons. Some of the hypersaline lagoons were drained or are used for commercial salt extraction or work. Small numbers in rural areas of Patagonia and in rice fields.



Antas, P.T.Z. 1983. Migration of nearctic shorebirds (Charadriidae and Scolopacidae) in Brasil ‑ flyways and their different seasonal use. Wader Study Group Bull. 39: 52-56.

Bent, A.C. 1962. Life Histories of North American Shore Birds. Part I. Dover Publications INC. New York.

Blanco, D.E., B. López-Lanús, R.A. Dias, A. Azpiroz & F. Rilla. 2006. Uso de arroceras por chorlos y playeros migratorios en el sur de América del Sur. Implicancias de conservación y manejo. Wetlands International. Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Canevari, P., G. Castro, M. Sallaberry & L.G. Naranjo. 2001. Guía de los chorlos y playeros de la Región Neotropical. ABC, WWF-US, WA, MBO & Asociación Calidris, Cali, Colombia.

del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott & J. Sargatal (eds). 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 3. Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Ed., Barcelona.

Fjeldsa, J. & N. Krabbe. 1990. Birds of the High Andes. Zoological Museum, Univ. of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Hayman, P., J. Marchant & T. Prater. 1986. Shorebirds. Christopher Helm, London.

Nores, M. 1989. Situación y rutas de vuelo de los playeros migratorios en Argentina, en: Taller de campo sobre ambientes acuáticos y técnicas de estudio, captura, marcado y manejo de chorlos migratorios. Fundación Vida Silvestre Argentina y Manomet Bird Observatory.

Olrog, C.C. 1968. Las aves sudamericanas: Una guía de campo. Tomo I. Universidad Nacional de Tucumán, Fundación - Instituto Miguel Lillo, Tucumán, Argentina.

Ridgely, R.S., T. Allnutt, T. Brooks, D.K. McNicol, D.W. Mehlman, R.E. Young & R. Zook. 2003. Digital distribution maps on the birds of the Western Hemisphere. Version 1.0. Nature-Serve, Arlington, Virginia.

Rodríguez Mata, J., F. Erize & M. Rumboll. 2006. Guía de Campo Collins – Aves de Sudamérica: No Passeriformes. Harper Collins Ltd.

Wetlands International. 2006. Waterbird Population Estimates – Fourth Edition. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.




Authors: Daniel E. Blanco, Román Baigún & Bernabé López-Lanús

Data compiler: Pablo F. Petracci

Photographer: Roberto Güller

Recommended citation: Blanco D.E., R. Baigún & B. López-Lanús. 2008. Wilson’s Phalarope in South America factsheet. Wetlands International for the Global Avian Influenza Network for Surveillance / WCS / USAID.

([1]) Phalaropus (=Steganopus) tricolor




Click on the link to download the factsheet in pdf format: Wilson´s Phalarope



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