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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

American Avocet: Facts You Won't Believe!

American avocet facts about their population are interesting

The American avocet (Recurvirostra americana as its scientific name suggests) belongs to the order Charadriiformes family of animals. This bird belongs to one of the four other species of avocet birds. The word 'avocet' has been defined with an explanation of this bird's appearance. The word itself means 'any bird with long legs and upturned bills'. The pronunciation is 'a-vuh-set' with a sound of 's' rather than the sound of the letter 'c'. Interesting, right?

These avocets prefer habitats near the coastal range where they can fly, swim, and find their food easily. These birds are usually considered to be silent but might turn aggressive when they see any threats lurking around their nest or their eggs. They protect their eggs by swooping right in the direction of their predators. Avocet birds migrate in winter and usually have a meat diet. Although the conservation status of this species is said to be of the Least Concern, due to climate change, it is said that the range of these avocets might soon reduce by 23%.

Read on for more interesting facts about American avocets. To know more about animals like the avocet, check out our articles on red kite and moorhen.

American Avocet Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an American avocet?

The American avocet is a bird from North America that belongs to the Recurvirostridae family of animals.

What class of animal does an American avocet belong to?

These North American birds belong to the Aves class of animals.

How many American avocets are there in the world?

Currently, the bird population of avocets is not extinct. Their population is around 450,000 individuals all over the world.

Where does an American avocet live?

American avocets are the birds of North America and the Atlantic coast. They are found in the coastal areas of New Mexico, Canada, Florida, Puerto Rico, California, and many other countries in South America too.

What is an American avocet's habitat?

These birds prefer wetlands and coastal areas with marshes as their perfect habitat. This is the reason why their habitat is focused around inland shallow waters, prairie ponds, and marshes in the coastal areas of California, Mexico, Bahamas, and many such places. Their population is spotted in abundance across beaches, coastlines, and mudflats too. During the winter season, most of the individuals of this species migrate in a flock of 50 to 300 birds and fly towards the Atlantic coast and forage in the open waters with 8 in (20.3 cm) of maximum depth.

Who do American avocets live with?

These avocets are social in nature and outside the breeding season are often seen in their American avocet flock of hundreds of individuals. They might also forage alongside black-necked stilts post breeding season. These wading birds are territorial in nature and nest in colonies.

How long does an American avocet live?

An American avocet lifespan may range between a good nine to a maximum of 15 years of age.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season occurs around the spring months between April and June for the avocet. Although these avocets are considered to be monogamous in nature, the American avocet polyandry system is carried out by the females. This means that males are monogamous and mate with only one bird, whereas a female might have more than one male partner in a season. During the breeding period, their pairs perform a few elaborate displays of their courtship by crouching themselves in different postures in and out of the water. Males and females are known to dance by spreading their wings and swaying with a sideways motion.

While breeding, the American avocet female and male build their nest on the ground. These nests are simple scrapes in the wetlands' sand which is a little above the water levels. These nests are built out of twigs, feathers, sticks, and grass. The nesting colonies are closer to one another to save the nests from any predators and other threats. A female then lays around three to five eggs, and the incubation process for these eggs is carried out by both parents. The incubation period takes around 22 to a maximum of 24 days before the hatching takes place. Once the hatching of eggs is done, the young precocial babies are born. They stay in the nesting area for a span of two to four weeks before they fly independently. For these two to four weeks, both parents protect their American avocet nest and the young chicks from predators as well as other avocets.

What is their conservation status?

These American avocets have a safe conservation status. This is mainly because their population is included in the Least Concern conservation category of animals by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in their conservation Red List.

American Avocet Fun Facts

What do American avocets look like?

An American avocet skull is small and round, which fits this medium-sized bird perfectly. The long slender bluish-gray legs with a dark long bill with an upward curve is what exactly defines the American avocet bird. An American avocet's feet help them to stand in the water for long intervals, and its  bill is usually dark in color. A female has a shorter and curvier bill than that of a male avocet. American avocet colors vary between shades of white and black. The whole body, including the underparts of both male and female birds, are white. Their feathers have black bands.

When this banded American avocet has a rusty orangish buff on its head and neck, the bird is considered to be in its breeding period. A juvenile American avocet, on the other hand, has more pinkish feathers on its head and neck. After the breeding period, these birds have a basic grayish-white plumage until the next breeding cycle. American avocet young chicks have a whole white and gray plumage with small black patterns on the wings and the back.

The American avocet bird has a black long upward curved bill and slender legs.

How cute are they?

This species of avocets may look cute, especially young chicks and when adults have a rusty-orange head after the winter season might look super cute.

How do they communicate?

The visuals of crouching, dancing and bowing are part of the American avocet mating rituals that focuses on the non-vocal way of their communication. Apart from those, these birds also use three kinds of calls to communicate with one another. Although they do not sing, their common call is of a continuous 'pleet' or 'wheet' sounds in a steady rhythm. Their excitement call or the American avocet chirp is similar to the common one but without a steady pace. The third is the American avocet broken wing display call which is a loud scream-sounding note which also might indicate danger.

How big is an American avocet?

The American avocet height or size is 10 times bigger than that of a least sandpiper bird, which is the smallest shorebird. The size of American avocet would range between 16–20 in (15.2-51 cm) with a wingspan of 27–30 in (69-76 cm).

How fast can an American avocet fly?

These birds can swim and are great at fliers. As they are migratory birds, the American avocet flying speed can range between 24-25 mph (38.6-40 kph).

How much does an American avocet weigh?

The American avocet range has an average weight of 0.6-0.7 lb (275-350 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

These shorebirds do not have separate names for males and females.

What would you call a baby American avocet?

Baby American avocets are called 'chicks'.

What do they eat?

The American avocet diet is a mix of meat and vegetation, making them omnivores in nature. The major part of their diet is small crustaceans, brine shrimps, aquatic insects, midge and insect larvae, as well as terrestrial non-insect arthropods. Apart from these, this bird might also include aquatic vegetation, seeds, and nuts into its diet list.

Are they aggressive?

These birds are quite territorial in nature and might dive onto predators if they sense threats towards their nest. They protect their eggs in a similar pattern.

Would they make a good pet?

Although this species of bird seems to be quite interesting and fun for human observation, they are wild shorebirds and prefer to stay near shallow waters. There have been no records of these birds being kept as pets.

Did you know...

Red-necked avocets and American avocets might be confused at times, but here are a few differences that help to distinguish them. Red-neckeds are a little smaller in size with a chestnut-colored head and two patches of black on the wings. The rest of their body is white, and they are mainly found in Australia. American ones, on the other hand, have a rusty orange head only during the breeding season along with black-banded wings, and they belong to the areas of North America.

Although American avocets and black-necked stilts flock together, they do not face direct competition mostly because of their distinct appearances.

How do American avocets hunt for food?

This species of avocets are used to submerging their head into shallow water for food. They also feed underwater with the help of their long bill. They do this by thrusting the bill into the water and swinging its bill from side to side, which helps stir up insects. These then turn into their food. This species of birds might also engage in the snatch technique, meaning biting any flies or flying insects for food supply.

How do American avocets protect themselves from predators?

Whenever this species perceives any threat, they perform their loud screeching sounds of broken wing calls to distract the predator. Another trick is their dive-bomb trick, where the bird jumps or dives low towards the predator until the predator turns away.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including common goldeneye, or western grebe.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our American Avocet coloring pages.

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