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9152Birds may have been Wilson's phalaropes

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  • Leigh Robertson
    Aug 24, 2014
      Here's what Coen Dexter had to say about the bird head I found and the murmuration in Ridgway:

      I am out on a LIMB but this bird head is not a Dunlin for two reasons. Dunlins have a very different bill than this bird has. Reason number two, Dunlins are late migrants and are very unlikely to be moving through until later in the year.
      I believe based on the very long, black, and thin bill that it belongs to a Wilson's Phalarope. The gray head and white on the face also works. Now start SAWING! I think I even know what killed the bird and ate it. Peregrine Falcons are in the area and often leave the head after feeding on their prey. The phalarope was likely in flight and struck in the air and killed and eaten near where the remains were photographed.
      Leigh, thanks for the report!


      Yes, big flocks of phalaropes do just like starlings when they detect a avian predator. I have seen this behavior many times when I was doing consulting work on the west side of the Great Salt Lake.
      Maybe the big flock of white birds were phaloropes. Sounds like we may be on to something.
      I have never looked at the tip of a phalarope bill but I suspect that it does. Dunlin's bill is decurved all the way from base to tip.