Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)

Pied Avocet

[order] CHARADRIIFORMES | [family] Recurvirostridae | [latin] Recurvirostra avosetta | [UK] Pied Avocet | [FR] Avocette elegante | [DE] Sabelschnabler | [ES] Avoceta Comun | [NL] Kluut


Monotypic species

Physical charateristics

Unmistakable, mainly white with black forehead, crown to below eyes, nape and upper hindneck. At rest, shows three distinctive black bands on mantle and scapulars, lesser and median upperwing coverts, and outer 6 primaries, bill black and strongly upcurved, long legs, blue grey.
Female tends to have shorter, more strongly curved bill. No seasonal variation. Juvenile similar to adult.

Listen to the sound of Pied Avocet

[audio:http://www.aviflevoland.nl/sounddb/P/Pied Avocet.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 67 cm wingspan max.: 77 cm
size min.: 42 cm size max.: 46 cm
incubation min.: 23 days incubation max.: 25 days
fledging min.: 35 days fledging max.: 25 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 4  


Africa, Eurasia : widespread


Breeds in flat, open areas typically at shallow saline lades, lagoon, pools, and estuaries with sparse vegetation.
Outside breeding season also frequents muddy tidal flats, infrequently found on fres hwater lakes and even rivers.


Breeding in April to August in Eurasia. Nests in large colonies, but sometimnes in small numbers or even solitary. Nest is typically a grass lined scrape in open ground or amongst short vegetation. 3-4 eggs are laid incubated for 23-25 days, by both sexes. Downy young silver grey above grading to buff on sides of head, wing and sides of back, with small black spots on crown, two lines of larger parallel spots on back and spots on thighs. Age of first breeding 2-3 years.

Feeding habits

Carnivorous, taking great variety of mainly aquatic invertebrates, particularly aquatic insects, crustaceans, and worms, rarely fish and plant material.
Most often feeds by picking or by tactile scything of bill through water or mud, sometimes feeds communally.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend is not known, but the population is not believed to be decreasing sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Pied Avocet status Least Concern


Migratory in northern parts of breeding range, grading to dispersive in south; significantly larger numbers remain in North Sea countries in mild winters. Winters locally in Britain and in Netherlands; more typically from Mediterranean basin to southern Caspian, and south to African Sahel, Arabia, and India.
Dispersal from breeding grounds begins second half July, and in August-September Swedish, Danish, German, and Dutch birds concentrate around Heligoland Bight and in Dutch delta region to moult. In most years, numbers decline sharply in October, due to emigration, though can still be several thousand present into November. Those wintering Britain and Ireland largely British-bred. Spring passage begins early, with departures from winter quarters from late February or early March. Return to breeding areas to some extent dependent on weather: in western Europe, vanguard may appear early to mid-March, with major return of adults in April.

Distribution map

Pied Avocet distribution range map

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