avoceta (Recurvirostra) is famous for having a remarkable conservation history. They returned from the brink of extinction in Britain in the mid-XNUMXth century and recolonized the beaches of East Anglia that were closed during the war.

Avocets are graceful waders with long turned beaks. Their black and white plumage and upturned bill are not their only striking features, they also have long blue legs that hang well behind their tails during flight. Young quickly leave the nest after hatching, running and feeding in a matter of hours - handy when their nest is just a small tangle in the mud.

We appreciate the pretty face of the avocet.
We appreciate the pretty face of the avocet.

Species

Within this species vertebrate we find the:

  • Common avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
  • Avocet of the Andes (Andean Recurvirostra)
  • American avocet (Recurvirostra americana)

Features

Sleek and sleek, these long-legged stilt walkers have a black bill and light blue legs. The avocet is the tallest and longest-legged bird in its family. They have a length of 400 to 500 mm and a wingspan of 213 to 242 mm. They are often mistaken for black-necked stilts (Himantopus mexicanus), but are distinguished by the bold black and white pattern on the back and wings and a strongly upturned black bill.

Females are similar in appearance to males, but with a shorter, upturned bill, male beaks are longer and straighter. They are the only avocet with distinct, breeding and non-breeding plumages. Breeding plumage is obtained in the first year and is a beautiful rusty black color along the head and neck. The basic plumage is a gray head. The reproductive plumage of the adults appears from January to March and is lost in July to September.

Behavior

They are migratory birds that form social groups and colonial nests. Outside of the breeding season they can gather in flocks of several hundred and feed in dense groups. They show patterns of twilight activity.

Communication and Perception

They make noisy "wheet" or "pleeet" and squeaky "kleeap" that are often repeated. They are very noisy when intruders approach active nests. They also communicate using complex displays that include dancing, bowing, and bending over.

Habitat

We can see them perfectly in marshes, ponds, wetlands and swamps and freshwater bogs. They are also common in lakes, rocky / sandy shores, coastal bays / islands, and salt marshes. They are wild animals and they don't live well in captivity.

Distribution

Avocets they are aerial animals They can be found in various places, including: Africa, Asia, China, Europe, the Mediterranean, Russia, the UK, Wales, and Central America.

Food

The avocet moves its open beak from side to side in shallow water to catch insects aquatic. They can feed in flocks of up to 100 birds or more, in deep water they "perch" like ducks and are said to be good swimmers.

Food eaten includes: Insects and other invertebrates, prawns and other crustaceans, aquatic vegetation and seeds if nothing else is found.

A grandmother capturing her food.
A grandmother capturing her food.

Predators

They are mostly quiet and uncaring, but they become extremely aggressive in breeding and nesting areas and loudly protest when intruders approach. They have few predators no human, some known nest predators include skunks (subfamily Mephitinae) and foxes (family Canidae).

Reproduction

Its mainly monogamous birds and vaguely colonial. Couples perform elaborate courtship displays involving various squatting and bowing poses in and out of the water, dancing with outstretched wings and swaying from side to side.

Breeding occurs between April and June. Nests are built on the shore and are usually scrapes on the ground; sometimes they are covered with dry grass or pieces of mud. The female lays 3 to 5 eggs (4 on average); the eggs are olive in color with brown and black spots. Incubation lasts 22 to 29 days and the eggs hatch synchronously. They start to fly after 28 to 35 days.

State of conservation

According to the IUCN red list, they are classified as Least Concern (LC). Although currently protected under the United States Migratory Bird Act, avocets are growing back after hunting in the XNUMXth and early XNUMXth centuries. The main threats today are habitat loss and degradation.

However, its reestablishment in Britain since the 1940s is a classic example of successful conservation of an endangered animal through habitat management.

List of other interesting animals