Recurvirostra avosetta Linnaeus, 1758
Common names: Pied Avocet [En], Avocette élégante [Fr], Kluut [Nl], Säbelschnäbler [De], Avocetta comune [It], Avoceta común [Es], Αβοκέτα [Gr], Bayağı kılıçgaga [Tu]
IUCN Status: LC (Least Concern)
Lake Kerkini, SERRES ● Greece
Etymology:This species gets its English and scientific names from the Venetian name avosetta. It appeared first in Aldrovandi’s Ornithologia (1603). The genus name is from Latin recurvus, “curved backwards” and rostrum, “bill”.
Description: The pied avocet is a striking white wader with bold black markings. Adults have white plumage except for a black cap and black patches in the wings and on the back. They have long, upturned bills and long, bluish legs. It is approximately 41.9–45.1 cm in length and the wingspan is approximately 76–80 cm.
Males and females look alike. The juvenile resembles the adult but with more greyish and sepia tones.
Biology: These birds forage in shallow brackish water or on mud flats, often scything their bills from side to side in water (a feeding technique that is unique to the avocets). They mainly eat crustaceans and insects.
They nest on open ground, often in small groups, sometimes with other waders. 3–5 eggs are laid in a lined scrape or on a mound of vegetation. The male and female avocet stay together for the breeding season, sharing responsibility for incubating the eggs for between 23 and 25 days. The chicks fledge the nest after 35 to 42 days. The pair bond between the male and female is only sustained for one breeding season, after which they separate and join a flock to begin migration.
Habitat: Throughout the breeding season, avocets colonise flat exposed areas such as mudflats and sandbanks in shallow, saline or brackish wetlands, in areas with minimal vegetation. These become exposed by receding waters throughout the summer, creating extra feeding grounds for this species.
Outside of the breeding season, the avocet inhabits coastlines and surrounding muddy areas, such as estuaries, lagoons, sandbanks and mudflats, as well as inland saline lakes.
Distribution: They breed in temperate Europe and western and Central Asia. It is a migratory species and most winter in Africa or southern Asia. Some remain to winter in the mildest parts of their range, for example in southern Spain and southern England.
The migration of northern populations begins between August and October, with the avocets heading south in a flock, stopping in certain areas in great numbers. Several thousand individuals may roost together and groups of between 5 and 30 forage collectively.
Wikipedia, Pied avocet
Arkive, Recurvirostra avosetta