Any of three species (genus Phalaropus, family Scolopacidae) of slim-necked shorebirds, 6–10 in. (15–25 cm) long, with lobed toes and a straight, slender bill. In summer, their gray-and-white plumage has red markings. Females fight for nesting territory and court the males; males, smaller and duller, do all the nesting duties and lead the young south in autumn. Two species breed around the Arctic Circle and winter on tropical oceans, where they are known as sea snipe. Wilson's phalarope (P. tricolor) breeds in western North America and migrates to the Argentine pampas.