American avocet in exhibit

American Avocet

Scientific Name
Recurvirostra americana
Geographic Range
Western North America
Aquatic insects and crustaceans (also seeds)
American avocet in exhibit Endangered Status Graph - Least Concern Endangered Status Graph - Least Concern

More Information

American avocets are long-legged shorebirds with a long, thin bill that curves upward and distinctive black-and-white stripes on their back and sides. They are about 18 inches tall and have bluish-gray legs. These birds prefer shallow wetlands but can swim in deeper water as well.

They spend time in colonies. Avocets have several mating displays—and after mating, pairs will intertwine their necks with bills crossed and run forward. They lay three to five eggs in their nest, which both parents incubate for three weeks or so. Both adults tend to the young after they hatch. Chicks fly after four or five weeks.

Did You Know?

  • During mating season, American avocets develop rust-colored heads and necks. These are grayish-white at other times of year.
  • Their bills are well adapted to foraging. These birds sweep their bill just under the water’s surface to filter small food items.
  • Avocet nests are made in simple scrapes on bare ground. They line the nests with pebbles and debris and may build a mound around it that’s up to a foot tall.


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