There are four species of avocets living today, grouped under the genus “Recurvirostra”. Derived from Latin, the word “Recurvirostra” literally means “backwards curved bill”. Here you’ll learn interesting information about avocet bird facts, pictures, habitat and other information.
Avocet enjoys distinction over other birds due to its elegance and striking coloration. It has a black and white stripped pattern that runs over its wings and the back. Did you know avocet is about 41 to 51 cm long and weighs around 300 to 420 grams? The bird has an estimated life span of 10-15 years.
What Do They Look Like?
As you can see in the avocet bird pictures, it is a large seashore bird with a beautiful black and white stripped pattern on its back. Its greyish-blue long legs have earned it the nickname "blue shanks". It has dark brown eyes that spark in sunlight, giving it a majestic look. During the breeding season, these birds undergo a change in colour from greyish-white to a pinkish-tan.
Like other birds of its type, Avocet possesses long legs and webbed feet that are perfectly designed for hunting in waters. They produce a high pitched "Kluik" sound to attract the attention of fellow birds in the flock. The female avocets are slightly bigger in size than the males.
Where Do They Live?
Avocets usually prefer watery habitats and reside near fresh water and salt-water marshlands, coastal areas and beaches. The avocet bird is widely distributed, ranging from the US to the Australian continent. For instance, Pied Avocet is largely found in Europe and Asia whereas, Pacific coast of North America is home to many American Avocets.
What Do Avocets Eat?
Avocets are primarily carnivorous in nature. They consume aquatic invertebrates, insects, small crustaceans and seeds. They sometimes feed on small fish too. The bird has a long, upturned beak, which it oscillates at either side in water to catch the prey.
How Do They Reproduce?
The Avocets, both male and female, show a peculiar behaviour on the arrival of the breeding season. The birds are seen to be engaging in complex courtships. The male member seeks the attention of the female by splashing water on itself.
During copulation, the birds sprint with their necks intertwined. These birds usually nest on the ground, which are efficiently lined with grass and feathers, etc. The female usually lays 3-4 small green-brown eggs that are incubated by the male members. The hatchlings leave the nest within one day of hatching.
Are These Species Endangered?
Contamination and destruction of wetlands have caused a significant fall in their number. Their natural habitat has been profoundly influenced by the water diversion for human use like residential schemes, amusement parks and enormous shopping malls.
The Avocets are fighting hard to get their numbers up and flourish again. No substantial attention has been given to this bird by the wildlife authorities for its protection.
All the avocet species (American, Andean, Pied and red-necked) have been rated as “least concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN).
Surviving Avocet Species:
American avocet, Andean avocet, Piet avocet and red-necked avocet are the four extant species of avocets. Here follows a brief over of each.
American Avocet (Recurvirostraamericana):
It is distributed across many states in the US, including Washington, Texas, New Mexico, Idaho, Colorado, Nebraska, and so on. The bird spends much of its time seeking its insect and crustacean prey on mud flats and in shallow water. Measuring 40 to 51 centimeters in length, it has a wingspan of 68 to 76 cm. Measuring more than twice the length of avocet’s head, the black bill is curved upwards near the tip.
Andean Avocet (Recurvirostraandina):
As the very name suggests, Andean avocet resides in the Andean Mountains – world’s largest continental mountain range. Marked by its dark brown tail, wings and back, and white neck, head and underparts, the Andean avocet is quite like its American counterpart in both size and weight. The Andean avocets breed above 11400 ft in the mountains of Peru, Chile, Bolivia and Argentina.
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostraavosetta):
This large black and white wader is a migratory bird, usually wintering in southern Asia and Africa. It is similar in size to both the American and Andean species, measuring 42 to 45 cm in length. Likewise, the wingspan reaches up to 80 cm. It is known for its melodious “kluitkluit” call which is far-carrying.
Red-necked Avocet (Recurvirostranovaehollandiae):
Owing to their Australian origin, the red-necked avocets are also called the Australian avocets. Other names for the bird include painted lady, cobbler’s awl, and cobbler. The bird measures about 310 g, with the total body length reaching 45 cm. Though its call is called yapping, the flocks in flight produce a sound similar to that of the dogs barking.