Back to the UAMZ Home Feature Creatures

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Charadriidae
Genus: Recurvirostra
Species: Recurvirostra americana

A large black and white wader with a pinkish head and neck. It has a very slender black upturned bill, very long pale blue legs and the front toes are webbed. The call is a kleep, kleep, sound, repeated several times.


The American Avocet breeds in southern and central Alberta, east of the Rockies and south of Edmonton and Beaverhill Lake. In the nineteenth century specimens were found as far north as Lesser Slave Lake and Fort Chipewyan.

Avocets arrive in Alberta early in May, and gather in flocks of up to one hundred birds. Noisy courtship activities will take place in these loose colonies, and nests will be made by the end of the month. The nest is a depression in the ground usually on dried-out mud shores or islands of shallow lakes or sloughs. Several nesting pairs may be found very close together and two female may even share one nest, and will take turns in the incubation of the eggs. The eggs are dark olive to light brown spotted with dark brown and lavender. 3 to 5 eggs will be layed by each female so the nest may contain up to 8 to 10 eggs.


© 2001 University of Alberta Museum of Zoology