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Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 18:42 EDT

Pied Avocet

The Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta) is a large wader in the avocet and stilt family, Recurvirostridae.

Except for a black cap and black patches on the wings and the back, the plumage of adults is white. They have long, upturned bills and long, bluish legs. Juvenile birds are brown where the adult is black, and the juvenile’s white plumage is often blotched with greyer patches.

Their breeding habitat includes shallow lakes with brackish water and bare mud exposed. They nest on open ground, often in small groups, sometimes with other waders. Three to five eggs are laid in a lined scrape or on a mound of vegetation.

They breed in temperate Europe and western and Central Asia. This migratory species winters in Africa or southern Asia. Some, however, remain to winter in the mildest parts of their range, for example in southern Spain and southern England.

These birds forage for crustaceans and insects in shallow brackish water or on mud flats, often sweeping their bills from side to side in water.

The call of the Avocet is a loud klute-klute-klute.

This species gets its English and scientific names from its black cap, as once worn by European advocates or lawyers.

This species became extinct in Great Britain in the mid-19th century. Its successful recolonization in the 1940s led to its adoption as the logo of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Pied Avocet