Phalarope, a family of wading birds, coming near the snipes, embracing the genus phalaro-pus (Briss.), subdivided into three by modern naturalists. In this family the bill is as long as or longer than the head; slender, straight, somewhat enlarged and depressed at the tip, which is curved and acute, the nostrils situated in the lengthened groove of the sides; wings long and pointed, the first and second quills equal and longest; tail short and rounded; tarsi as long as the middle toe, strong and compressed; toes long, the lateral united to the middle by a membrane running along the border of each, and more or less lobed as in the coot; hind toe moderate and elevated, and slightly margined with membrane; claws short and sharp; feathers of the breast compact and duck-like. These birds live in the northern regions, migrating south in severe winters; they are generally seen in pairs or small parties, swimming on the sea, lakes, ponds, and fresh-water streams, usually near the margin, searching for floating seeds, aquatic insects, and small crustaceans; large beds of floating seaweed are their favorite resorts; ' they are excellent swimmers, though they do not dive, and high and rapid fliers; they lay three or four eggs in a tuft of grass in marshes. "Wilson's or the gray phalarope (P. Wilsonii, Sab.; genus steganopus, Vieill.) is about 9 1/2 in. long, with an alar extent of 17 in.; the bill 14 in., black; general color above ashy gray mixed with reddish; stripe behind eye reddish black; front of neck reddish brown; rump and upper tail coverts and under parts white; the young are cinereous above, mixed with dark brown, and ashy white below.

It is found throughout the temperate regions of North and South America, on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and sometimes wanders to Europe; it is fond of wading as it searches for food, and is lively and graceful; the marginal membrane of the toes is nearly even. The northern phalarope (P. hyperboreus, Temm.; genus lobipes, Cuv.) is about 7 in. long, with an alar extent of 14 in. and the bill 1 in.; the webs are scalloped at the joints. The general color above is brownish black, paler on the rump, and mixed with ferruginous on the back; head and neck behind sooty ash, and the latter encircled with a ring of bright ferruginous, with a stripe of the same on each side; tips of greater wing coverts white; sides ashy mixed with reddish, and under parts white; the young are brownish black above, many feathers with ashy or yellowish tips. This species is found in the temperate parts of North America, and is widely distributed over N. Europe and Asia; it is one of the handsomest and most graceful of the waders. They congregate in flocks, and are very shy; they breed in the north, both sexes incubating, the female having, it is said, a bare space on the abdomen where it comes in contact with the eggs; the eggs are 1 1/2 by 7/8 in., of a buff color with dark reddish brown blotches.

They have been seen on floating seaweed more than 100 miles from shore. The red phalarope (P. fulicarius, Bonap.) is 7 1/2 in. long and 14 in. in alar extent; the bill is strong and flattened, widened at the end; the head above, throat, and back brownish black, on the last edged with pale ochrey yellow; wings and tail ashy brown; tips of greater wing coverts, and stripe on cheek, white; under parts deep brownish red, tinged with purplish on the abdomen; under wing coverts and axillaries white; bill greenish yellow; the young are light cinereous above, mixed with blackish brown on the head and wings, and white below. It is found in temperate America, Asia, and Europe, and is considered excellent eating in autumn; the eggs are 1 1/4 by 7/8 in., dull greenish yellow with blotches and dots of reddish brown.

Wilson's Phalarope (Phalaropus Wilsonii).

Wilson's Phalarope (Phalaropus Wilsonii).