|Male on the left, female on the right|
We continued on our way, and when we arrived at the deck overlooking the pond, sure enough, there they were: not one, but two red phalaropes (Phalaropus fulicarius—the genus means "coot footed" in Greek), a male and a female, spinning dizzily on the water's surface. Just lovely!
Phalaropes, members of the sandpiper family, are notable for a few reasons. First, they reverse the usual sexual dimorphism, with females being bigger and flashier than the males. The female also breaks with avian tradition by taking the lead in courtship. And once she has laid her mottled olive-brown eggs in the birds' extreme northerly nesting grounds, the female starts her southward migration, leaving the male to incubate the eggs and care for the chicks, a job that lasts just shy of forty days (or less: the young can take care of themselves if the dad is eager to get on his way).