Saturday, April 27, 2019

American Avocet - An Elegant Glow

American Avocet

The name Avocet comes from the Italian avosetta, which means ‘graceful bird'. If your looking for the American version of this graceful bird, you’ll find him foraging in the shallow marshes scattered throughout the wide open west.

It’s easy to confirm his identity because of his distinctive features and striking colors. His sleek, white body is set upon a pair of long, blue legs and he has solid black wings broken by a broad, white bar.

The Avocet has an outrageously long, recurved, black bill but his exquisite coloring is what really sets him apart. During breeding season his head, neck and breast is shaded in soft peach while in the winter those same areas are filled gray.

He’s a common shore bird whose breeding grounds are often located along the lower fringes of the Rocky Mountains. He wades across the wetlands scything - sweeping his bill side to side through the water’s surface while feeding on tiny crustaceans and aquatic insects.

He and his mate prefer to live on an island where they scrape the ground, creating a saucer-shaped nest lined with grass, feathers and pebbles. Upon hatching, the chicks feed themselves as they’re never fed by their parents.

The little ones are precocial, moving around independently soon after they’re born. By just one day old, the nimble chicks have the ability to walk, swim and dive in order to escape threatening predators.

The parents are notoriously aggressive towards anything and anyone who approaches their nest or young. They make shrill alarm calls, create distraction displays and dive bomb unlucky intruders.

Come fall, the bird will migrate to a more hospitable environment usually along the California coastline. Before his inevitable departure, though, there’s still lots of time to bask in the elegant glow of the American Avocet.

A graceful bird

A common shore bird

A long, curved bill

Distinctive features

The head, neck and breast are peach

Foraging in a shallow marsh

Exquisite coloring

Found in the wide open west

Protective parents

Scything through the water

Wades across the wetlands

An elegant glow

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