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Finding an avocet species means getting to the right habitat. A distinctively-patterned black and white bird with a long up-curved beak, the four species of avocets make up a genus, Recurvirostra, of shorebirds in the same avian family as the stilts.
See the fact file below for more information on the avocet or alternatively, you can download our 22-page Avocet worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Avocets possess slender legs and they sweep their long, thin, up-curved beaks from side to side; they prefer to forage in brackish or saline wetlands.
- An avocet’s feathers are pied, or one that has a pattern of pigmented white, and sometimes red, spots on a pigmented background.
- Avocet species have webbed feet that aid them in swimming. They feed on aquatic insects and other small creatures.
- They build nests on the ground in loose colonies. In partially enclosed coastal bodies of brackish water settings, avocets may eat exposed bay muds or mudflats.
- The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds uses the pied avocet as their emblem.
AMERICAN AVOCET (Recurvirostra americana)
- A large wader, the American avocet spends most of its time searching for food in shallow waters or on mud flats, often sweeping its beak from side to side in water as it looks for its crustacean and insect prey.
- This bird is classified under the order Charadriiformes, which consists of shorebirds, gulls, and alcids.
- An American avocet measures 16 to 20 inches in length, has a wingspan of 27 to 30 inches, and weighs 9. To 14.8 ounces.
- Its bill, which is long and is about twice the length of the bird’s head, is black and sharp, which slightly curves upwards towards the end.
- Just like other waders, it has long and slender pastel grey-blue legs, and somewhat webbed feet.
- It wears a black and white plumage on the back, with white feathers on the underbelly. During the breeding season, the bird’s plumage turns brassy orange on the head and neck, kind of continuing down to the breast. After the breeding season, its vibrant feathers change to white and grey. The American avocet usually preens its feathers, a maintenance behavior that makes use of the bill to position and clean the feathers.
- American avocets used to fly across most of the United States until local extinction from the East Coast. Marshes, beaches, prairie ponds, and shallow lakes make up the breeding habitats of these waders. Their migration route extends to almost every state in the western United States.
- This avocet species’ call can be defined as both a shrill and melodic alarm beret, which rises in inflection over a given period.
- They breed anywhere, from freshwater to hypersaline wetlands in the western and midwest United States, with breeding colonies ranging in dozens of pairs, where these birds pair off in a number of copulatory displays.
- After the breeding season, they form large flocks. Nesting usually occurs near water, particularly on small islands or slimy shorelines where predators are out of reach.
- American avocets practice both visual and tactile feeding approaches, where the primary method is pecking at flies.
ANDEAN AVOCET (Recurvirostra andina)
- A large wader in the Recurvirostra family, the Andean avocet lives in the Andes, breeding above 3,500 meters in northwestern Argentina, western Bolivia, northern Chile, and southern Peru.
- They sport a white plumage on their head, neck, underparts, and rump, and a dark brown back, wings, and tail.
- Just like the American avocet’s size, this species reaches 17 to 19 inches in length and 11.1 to 14.5 ounces in weight.
- It has thin, grey legs that are not as long as their cousins, but the long, thin black beak is upturned at the tip.
- The Andean avocet’s color pattern resembles that of the local subspecies black-winged stilt (Himantopus himantopus melanurus), although the latter has very long red legs, a white tail, and a straight beak.
- In small groups, they build their nests close to shallow, alkaline lakes in the Andes. Their eggs are laid in at least January.
- Andean avocets are non-migratory waders; however, they may move to somewhat lower altitudes outside of the breeding season.
- They look for food in shallow waters or on mud flats, sometimes sweeping its beak from side to side in water as it forages its crustacean and insect prey.
PIED AVOCET (Recurvirostra avosetta)
- A large black and white wader, the pied avocet is a resident in temperate Europe regions and across the palearctic to central Asia then on to the Russian far east.
- Pied avocets, also known as black-capped avocet, Eurasian avocet, or just avocet, are among the bird species initially described by Carl Linnaeus in his landmark 1758 10th edition of Systema Naturae, where it was identified as Recurvirostra avosetta.
- It is a striking white wader sporting bold black colorations. Adults are covered with white feathers except for a black cap and black patches found in the wings and on the back. It has a long, upturned beak and long, bluish legs.
- It reaches roughly 16.5 to 17.75 inches in length, with a bill that reaches 2.95 to 3.35 inches, and legs that extend 3 to 4 inches in length. Its wingspan is about 30 to 31.5 inches.
- Juvenile pied avocets have the same features as that of the adults but with more greyish and sepia tones.
- A pied avocet’s call is a far-carrying, liquid, melodious kluit kluit.
- As migratory birds, they search for food in shallow brackish water or on mud flats, and feed on crustaceans and insects. They build their nests on open grounds, usually in small groups, together with other waders. They lay three to five eggs in a lined scrape or on a mound of vegetation.
RED-NECKED AVOCET (Recurvirostra novaehollandiae)
- Also called the Australian avocet, cobbler, cobbler’s awl, and painted lady, the red-necked avocet is a wader endemic to Australia and is scattered, except for the north and northeast coastal areas of the country.
- Red-necked avocets appeared on a 13 cent postage stamp in 1966.
- French naturalist Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot first described the species in 1816.
- Just like all avocet species, they are distinguished for their upcurved beak. An adult’s head and neck is covered with vibrant chestnut brown feathers, with a narrow white eye ring and a red-brown iris. The secondary covert feathers and primary features are black and the rest of the bird’s plumage is white. They have a black bill and pale grey-blue legs.
- A juvenile red-necked avocet’s head is sometimes paler and browner than those of the adults.
- Adults reach 17 to 17.5 inches in length, with a total wingspan of around 29.5 inches, and weigh around 310 grams.
- Red-necked avocets call can be identified as a yapping, and flocks in flight create noises that resemble those of dogs barking.
- Similar to other Australian waterbirds, they are highly nomadic, which is mainly caused by the diverse rainfall, moving around the continent in search of a comfortable habitat. Red-necked avocets prefer salt or brackish waters and are usually found in shallow wetland areas, either salt or fresh, or on estuarine mudflats.
THREATS AND CONSERVATION STATUS
- Shooting and trapping of American avocets caused their numbers to decline until the 1900s. By 1918, they became protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
- The pied avocet is among the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies. The pied avocet was recolonized at Minsmere, Suffolk in 1947, which led to its adoption as the logo of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
- Due to the red-necked avocets’ relatively large size, they have fewer predators compared to their cousins. Red foxes or feral cats usually steal chicks and eggs. Climate change also causes the population decline of inland breeding areas through extended drought periods.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the avocet across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Avocet worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the avocet which is a distinctively-patterned black and white bird with a long up-curved beak, the four species of avocets make up a genus, Recurvirostra, of shorebirds in the same avian family as the stilts.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Avocet Facts
- Hey Avocet
- An Avocet’s Life
- Avocet Quiz
- Test Yourself
- The More You Know
- Avocet Wiki
- Long-Legged Birds
- Bird Beaks
- Four Species Comics
- Avocet Acrostics
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Link will appear as Avocet Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, February 17, 2021
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.