Thursday, 28 July 2011

American avocet

Recurvirostra americana

Photo by Don Debold (Wikipedia)

Common name:

Order Charadriiformes
Family Recurvirostridae

These birds breed in the western Canada and in the western United States, from Washington to Minnesota and south to California and Texas. They winter in California and Texas, along the Gulf coast to Florida and south to Guatemala.

The American avocet is 43-47 cm long and has a wingspan of 68-76 cm. They weigh 340 g.

These birds are common in mudflats, ponds, wetlands, and freshwater marshes and swamps. They are also found in lakes, rocky and sandy seashores, bay or coastal islands, and tidal flats.
American avocets mostly eat aquatic insects, crustaceans, worms and small fish, but also seeds and aquatic plants.

These birds breed in April-June. They typically nest in colonies, sometimes mixed with black-necked stilts Himantopus mexicanus. Each pair nests in a shallow depression lined with grass on a beach or mudflat, where the female lays 4 olive-buff eggs blotched with brown and black. The eggs are incubated by both parents for 22-29 days. The chicks leave the nest soon after hatching, and are able to find their own food, but depend on their parents for protection against predators and harsh weather. They fledge 4-5 weeks after hatching.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and the global population size is estimated at 100.000-1.000.000 individuals. The overall population trend is stable, but local declines have been observed in different parts of its range, possibly due to pollution and destruction of wetland habitats.

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