The American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana) is a large wader in the avocet and stilt family, Recurvirostridae. The American Avocet forages in shallow water or on mud flats, often sweeping its bill from side to side in water as it seeks its crustacean and insect prey.
The American Avocet measures 40–51 cm (16–20 in) in length, has a wingspan of 68–76 cm (27–30 in) and weighs 275–420 g (9.7–14.8 oz) It has long, thin, gray legs, giving it its colloquial name, blue shanks. The plumage is black and white on the back with white on the underbelly. The neck and head are cinnamon colored in the summer and gray in the winter. The long, thin bill is upturned at the end. [Wikipedia]
With its elegant profile and striking coloration, the American Avocet is unique among North American birds. In summer it can be found in temporary and unpredictable wetlands across western North America where it swings its long upturned bill through the shallow water to catch small invertebrates. [All About Birds]
American Avocet Facts [All About Birds]
- In response to predators, the American Avocet sometimes issues a series of call notes that gradually changes pitch, simulating the Doppler effect and thus making its approach seem faster than it actually is.
- Nesting American Avocets aggressively attack predators, sometimes physically striking Northern Harriers or Common Ravens.
- American Avocet chicks leave the nest within 24 hours after hatching. Day-old avocets can walk, swim, and even dive to escape predators.
- The oldest recorded American Avocet was over 15 years old when it was found in California, where it had been banded a decade and a half earlier.