All About the Avocet

The Avocet is an elegant bird that glides through the shallow waters. It’s found in coastal parts of the United States and has a distinctive look that turns heads.

What You Should Know

The American Avocet lives among the wetlands of the arid western United States. It resides around beaches, shallow lakes, flats, and prairie ponds. It prefers to live among open ground that has little vegetation. It’s also fond of the salty or alkaline water versus fresh.

Avocets are social birds that prefer to live in large flocks. Their groups are especially numerous while migrating or mating.

The Avocent eats small insects and crustaceans as well as some seeds. It prefers to find its food in shallow water, so diets also contain larvae and aquatic insects. When living on a lake in the west, it’s been found eating brine flies and brine shrimp.

What Sound Do They Make?

The Avocet makes a loud, repeated weep. When it deals with predators, it lets out a series of notes that rise gradually in pitch. This creates a Doppler effect which allows it to appear faster than it is.

Group Characteristics

Many Avocets migrate to the west coast in winter. There are a few that go east to the Atlantic coast instead.

A typical Avocet has four eggs per breeding. They are olive-colored with some black and brown blotches. These eggs are incubated by both parents for 23 to 25 days. At night, the female takes charge of the eggs, but both partners share the duties during the day. The American Avocet takes part in brood parasitism. This is when it lays its eggs in the nest of another female who then incubates them without noticing. Their eggs have even been found in Mew Gulls nests.

The downy young leave the nest shortly after hatching to find their food. The age of the first flight is typically around four weeks old.

How Many are There?

The Avocet population is increasing. In the past few decades, the numbers in both the east and west have risen. Still, some threats are facing them.

They continue to lose their wetland habitat due to climate change and contamination. Some of the wetlands in the west have decreased in size by 90%.

Pop Culture

Probably the most well-known depiction of an Avocet in film is by Miss Avocet from Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. Played by Judy Dench, Miss Avocet escaped the slaughter of Hollowgasts and sought refuge at the Home. She was initially found in the Cairn Tunnel and unable to return to human form. When Emma and Jack took her to Miss Peregrine, she was restored to health and later took care of the children, but died later in the movie at the hands of Malthus.

Interesting Facts

The Avocet is a medium-sized bird. It weighs up to 15 ounces and reaches 18 inches in length. The wingspan totals between 30 and 32 inches. An Avocet is covered with white and black feathers. It’s young look precisely like the adult birds, except they have brown feathers in place of the black.

Avocets are most known for their long, upward curved beak. The male Avocet tends to have a longer beak than the female. Aside from the beak, they are also known for their webbed feet and slender, long legs. This helps them to trudge through the shallow water with ease.