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American Avocet

Recurvirostra americana

Length: 18 inches Wingspan: 30 - 35 inches Seasonality: Migrant / Summer
ID Keys: Strongly upcurved bill, black-and-white pattern on back and wings, rusty neck and head.

American Avocet - Recurvirostra americanaThe American Avocet is often seen feeding in shallow waters, sweeping its strongly upcurved bill from side-to-side as it feeds on aquatic insects and crustaceans. Sometimes groups of Avocets are seen, lined up side-by-side and sweeping forward as they search for food. Americna Avocets can be found as summer breeders in much of South Dakota.

Habitat: Shallow lakes and ponds, mudflats.  Prefers open habitats with little vegetation.  Also prefers alkaline or salty inland waters over fresh water.

Diet: Mostly aquatic insects and crustaceans.

Behavior: Feeds by sweeping bill from side-to-side in shallow water, plucking food items from the water surface or ground, or by submerging its head for items under water.  During nesting, may perform distraction displays to lure predators away from nests and nestlings.

Nesting: May through July

Interactive eBird Map: Click to access interactive eBird map for the American Avocet

Song: Loud pleeeeep.

Migration: Summers throughout much of the interior central and western United States and southern Canada.  Migrates in the fall to U.S. coasts, central valleys of California, Mexico, and Central America.

Similar Species: Black-necked Stilt

Conservation Status: Numbers have steadily increased since the early 1900s, when over-hunting greatly reduced their numbers.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, American Avocet

2) BirdWeb - American Avocet

3) Audubon Guide - American Avocet

Photo Information: April 30th, 2005 -- Lake Thompson, Kingsbury County -- Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution American Avocet photos.

 

Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view 
Range Map - American Avocet
South Dakota Status: Common migrant and summer breeder in most of the state, although less common in the southeastern corner of the state.

Additional American Avocet Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
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