American Avocet: Long-legged shorebird with long, thin, upcurved bill and distinctive black-and-white back and sides. Head and neck are bright rust-brown during summer. Legs and feet are gray. Feeds on insects, crustaceans, and invertebrates. Strong direct flight with neck extended.
Range and Habitat
American Avocet: Breeds from interior Washington, Saskatchewan, and Minnesota south to California and Texas. Winters on the west coast north to California, on the Gulf Coast, and in Florida. Is a regular fall visitor on the Atlantic coast. Preferred habitats include freshwater marshes and shallow, marshy lakes. Breeds locally in salt or brackish marshes; often moves to coasts in winter.
In response to predators, they 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 and Common Ravens.
Their chicks leave the nest within 24 hours after hatching. Day-old avocets can walk, swim, and even dive to escape predators.
Their nests are depressions on the sand or platforms of grass on mudflats. Should the water level rise, the breeding pair will raise the nest up to a foot or more with sticks, weeds, bones and feathers to keep the eggs above water.
The American Avocet is native to a range of approximately 2.5 million square kilometers. It can be found in such countries as the Bahamas, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Netherlands and Venezuela. It has also been spotted in Greenland and the Virgin Islands. The population of American Avocet is around 450,000 birds. Over the last few years the population of the American Avocet has not significantly declined. In 2000, the American Avocet has a rating of Lower Risk, but has since changed to Least Concern in 2004 as a result of population levels.