American Avocet

American Avocets are a large shore bird with legs made for wading. They have a long black beak that is upturned slightly. They have a rusty orange head and neck during breeding. Otherwise, it is usually a grayish white color. Their bodies are white with a white line across their black wings and blue-gray legs.
SCIENTIFIC NAME
Recurvirostra americana
CLASSIFICATION
Bird
LIFE SPAN
5-10 Years
SIZE
16-19 ” | 0.5-0.75 lbs
STATE CONSERVATION STATUS
  • Priority Species
FEDERAL CONSERVATION STATUS
Least Concern
GAME STATUS
Non-Game
GAME TYPE
None
  1. Washoe
  2. Humboldt
  3. Pershing
  4. Churchill
  5. Mineral
  6. Lyon
  7. Douglas
  8. Carson City
  9. Storey
  1. Elko
  2. Lander
  3. Eureka
  4. White Pine
  1. Esmeralda
  2. Nye
  3. Lincoln
  4. Clark

Habitat & Range

American Avocets prefer shallow waters where they can wade and forage for aquatic insects and plants. They nest in areas that do not have a lot of vegetation but are near water. In Nevada, Avocets are found throughout the state either during migration or during breeding season. Avocets breed in the northwestern part of the state and some parts of the northeast.

  • Desert Playas
  • Lakes and reservoirs
  • Marsh

Threats

  • Habitat Degradation
  • Habitat Loss

Natural History

American Avocets wade through shallow water to catch aquatic insects. They also consume aquatic vegetation and seeds. They will consume beetles, shrimp, small fish, and many other kinds of aquatic invertebrates. Their unique upturned bill helps them catch their prey by moving their bill side to side as they wade through the water.
American Avocets usually nest on open flats or areas with scattered tufts of grass on islands or along lakes, including alkaline, and marshes. Readily nests on artificial islands in impoundments. Males and females both aid in choosing a nest site and constructing the simple ground nest by scraping the ground. The female lays 3-4 eggs and a couple hours after hatching the long-legged chicks are able to scamper around.

Fun Facts

Female American Avocets will sometimes lay their eggs in the nest of another female, leaving them to be incubated and raised as the other female’s own.