What sits in the water, spins like a top, and plays "follow the leader"?
It's a Wilson's Phalarope .
These unusual birds have very distinctive behaviors. Unlike most species, the female is brightly-colored and the male is drab in color. During nesting, it is the male that assumes most of the parental responsibilities. The male incubates the eggs and, once they have hatched, cares for the brood.
The feeding behavior can be described as "follow the leader". The leader, the American avocet or northern shoveler, stirs up food from the slough bottom. The Wilson's Phalarope follows behind, spearing the food that has floated to the top. Another interesting feeding characteristic of phalaropes is that they spin in circles, stirring the bottom of the slough. And for you trivia buffs: A phalarope spins up to 60 revolutions a minute, stabbing at the water on each turn.
In some regions, the phalarope is being threatened by the loss of wetland habitat. However, at J. Clark Salyer NWR, the Wilson's Phalarope is considered a common sight in the spring of the year.