Basic Information

Scientific Name Recurvirostra avosetta
Featured bird groups Water birds
Phylum Chordata

The Pied Avocet is an Old World species. This very elegant wader or shorebird is black and white, and shows a conspicuous upcurved long bill. Both adults have similar plumage, but the female has shorter and more curved bill than male. Adult has white body with black scapulars and mantle sides. On the upperwing, the outer lesser coverts and the median coverts are black, as the outer six primary flight feathers. Underparts are white, except the black outer primary flight feathers. This black patch is larger in male. On the head, forehead, crown to below the eyes, nape and upper hindneck are black. Chin, throat, foreneck and cheeks are white.  The long bill is upcurved and black. Eyes are dark brown. Long legs and webbed feet are pale blue-grey. The juvenile has less contrasted plumage, with the black parts tinged brownish, whereas the white upperparts show sepia, buff or grey-brown mottling.



The Pied Avocet breeds in flat, open brackish or saline areas with short vegetation. This bird is usually found on lakes, lagoons, salt-pans and estuaries with some vegetation. Outside the breeding season, it frequents the muddy tidal flats. It may be occasionally seen in freshwater, lakes or rivers. 


The Pied Avocet feeds mainly on aquatic invertebrates such as insects and larvae, molluscs, crustaceans, worms, and also fish and plant materials. It feeds by picking, or by strong sideway sweeps of the bill. It also performs up-ending. It forages in watery mud and often swims too.During the breeding season, the Pied Avocet becomes very noisy and aggressive. They drive off larger birds such as shelducks. The birds lower head and neck, and chase the intruders which enter the nest-site and approach the nest.


The Pied Avocet utters a clear “kluit” relatively melodious, and some other similar calls. This call is loud and often repeated. When alarmed, the same call is given but harsher “kloo-eet” or a shrill “krrreee-yu”.

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