Wilson's Phalarope
(Phalaropus tricolor)


Picture of bird
© Marcel Gahbauer
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The Wilson's Phalarope is found primarily in western Canada, with isolated breeding records from eastern Canada including Ontario and New Brunswick. The species prefers wetland habitats throughout its range. Results from the Breeding Bird Survey indicate that the population in Canada has increased relative to about 1970. Wilson's Phalaropes are threatened by habitat loss during the breeding season, as well as diversion of water from key staging areas in the western United States. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Secure2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaModerate IncreaseMediumAt an Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada500,000 - 1,000,000 adults (includes birds breeding and migrating within Canada)

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Long-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population

General nesting period in Canada

Nesting period starts between early May and late May and ends in early July, depending on the region. Before or after this period, the probability of an active nest is lower.

Conservation and management

Wilson's Phalaropes breed primarily in prairie wetlands (Colwell and Jehl 1994), habitats that continue to be lost and degraded due to residential development and agricultural intensification. The use of agrochemicals throughout the range further impact the species (Lesterhuis and Clay 2010). Diversion and use of water has altered the ecology of the hypersaline lakes in the western United States upon which a majority of Wilson's Phalaropes depend. These habitats are critical staging areas for migrating phalaropes en route to their South American wintering areas (Jehl 1994, Colwell and Jehl 1994). Other threats facing the species include habitat changes as a result of climate change, and unregulated mining on the Andean wintering grounds (Lesterhuis and Clay 2010).


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Boreal Taiga PlainsBoreal Taiga Plains, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Conservation
Great BasinGreat Basin, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Other
Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence PlainLower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Plain, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Other
Northern Pacific RainforestNorthern Pacific Rainforest, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Other
Northern RockiesNorthern Rockies, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Other
Prairie PotholesPrairie Potholes, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Conservation & Stewardship