Bryan Brillhart Photography Presents “Dig IB” Bird of the Week, the “American avocet”
Jul 09, 2015 11:33AM
● By Paul Spear
Bryan Brillhart of Bryan Brillhart Photography presents us with the “Bird of the Week”. The column will provide a picture of a bird(s) locally photographed and we will have background on the bird. This week’s bird is the ““American avocet (Recurvirostra americana)”.
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American avocet (Recurvirostra americana)
The American avocet is a large wader in the stilt family. I featured his cousin, the black necked stilt, as the "Bird of the Week" a few weeks ago. Both birds can be seen in our own Tijuana Estuary. The avocet has long, thin, gray legs, giving it its colloquial name, "blue shanks". The plumage is black and white on the back with white on the underbelly. The neck and head are cinnamon colored in the summer and gray in the winter. The long, thin bill is upturned at the end. The breeding habitat is marshes, beaches, prairie ponds, and shallow lakes. American avocets form breeding colonies numbering dozens of pairs. When breeding is over the birds gather in large flocks, sometimes including hundreds of birds. Nesting occurs near water, usually on small islands or boggy shorelines where access by predators is difficult. The female lays four eggs in a saucer-shaped nest, and both sexes take turns incubating them. Upon hatching, the chicks feed themselves; they are never fed by their parents. The American avocet forages in shallow water or on mud flats, often sweeping its bill from side to side in water as it seeks crustacean and insect prey.