American Avocet

Recurvirostra americana




Avocets and Stilts (Recurvirostridae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Olive buff marked with brown and black

Number of Eggs:

3 - 4

Incubation Days:

22 - 29

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

On ground.

Nest Material:

Lined with dry grasses and mud chips.





American Avocet: Long-legged shorebird characterized by long, thin upcurved bill and distinctive black-and-white back and sides. Head and neck are bright rust-brown during summer. Female has shorter, more upcurved bill. Winter adult resembles breeding adult but head and neck are pale gray. Juvenile is similar to adults but has a pale rust-brown wash over gray head and neck.

Range and Habitat

American Avocet: Breeds from interior Washington and British Columbia, east to Minnesota, and south to California and Texas. Winters on the west coast north to California, on the Gulf Coast, Florida, and the southern Atlantic coast. Preferred habitats include freshwater marshes and shallow, marshy lakes. Breeds locally in salt or brackish marshes; often moves to coasts in winter.

Breeding and Nesting

American Avocet: Three to four pale olive buff eggs, spotted with brown and black, are laid in a shallow depression sparsely lined with grass on a beach or mudflat. Incubation ranges from 22 to 29 days and is carried out by both parents. Often nests in loose colonies.

Foraging and Feeding

American Avocet: Feeds by thrusting bill underwater and swinging it from side to side along the bottom to stir up aquatic insects. Also eats crustaceans and other aquatic animals and plants.


American Avocet: Song is a loud, repeated "wheep."

Similar Species

American Avocet: Black-necked Stilt is smaller with pink legs and black back, wings, and back of neck.

Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X