Pied avocet

The pied avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta) is a large black and white wader in the avocet and stilt family, Recurvirostridae. They breed in temperate Europe and western and Central Asia. It is a migratory species and most winter in Africa or southern Asia. Some remain to winter in the mildest parts of their range, for example in southern Spain and southern England. The pied avocet is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.

Bird recorded in Suffolk England


The pied avocet was one of the many bird species originally described by Linnaeus in the landmark 1758 10th edition of his Systema Naturae, where it was given the binomial name of Recurvirostra avosetta.[2] This species gets its English and scientific names from the Venetian name avosetta. It appeared first in Aldrovandi's Ornithologia (1603).[3] While the name may refer to black and white outfits once worn by European advocates or lawyers, the actual etymology is uncertain.[3] Other common names include black-capped avocet, Eurasian avocet or just avocet.[4]

It is one of four species of avocet that make up the genus Recurvirostra.[5] The genus name is from Latin recurvus, "curved backwards" and rostrum, "bill".[6] A 2004 study combining genetics and morphology showed that it was the most divergent species in the genus.[7]


The pied avocet is a striking white wader with bold black markings. Adults have white plumage except for a black cap and black patches in the wings and on the back. They have long, upturned bills and long, bluish legs. It is approximately 16.5–17.75 in (41.9–45.1 cm) in length of which the bill is approximately 2.95–3.35 in (7.5–8.5 cm) and the legs are approximately 3–4 in (7.6–10.2 cm). Its wing-span is approximately 30–31.5 in (76–80 cm).[8] Males and females look alike. The juvenile resembles the adult but with more greyish and sepia tones.

The call of the avocet is a far-carrying, liquid, melodious kluit kluit.[8]


Pied Avocet chick
Pied avocet (juvenile) near Oosterend, Texel island, the Netherlands

These birds forage in shallow brackish water or on mud flats, often scything their bills from side to side in water (a feeding technique that is unique to the avocets[9]). They mainly eat crustaceans and insects.

Their breeding habitat is shallow lakes with brackish water and exposed bare mud. They nest on open ground, often in small groups, sometimes with other waders. 3–5 eggs are laid in a lined scrape or on a mound of vegetation.

In Britain

The pied avocet was extirpated as a breeding species in Great Britain by 1840.[10] Its successful recolonisation at Minsmere, Suffolk, in 1947 led to its adoption as the logo of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.[8] The pied avocet has spread inland and northwards and westwards in Britain since then and it has bred in Wales [11] and in Scotland in 2018 at Skinflats.[12]


Saebelschnaebler (Recurvirostra avosetta)

Adult feeding

Recurvirostra avosetta-pjt2

Adult in flight

Säbelschnäbler Küken 0506111

Avocet chick

Recurvirostra avosetta MHNT

Avocet egg

Avocet from the Crossley ID Guide Britain and Ireland

ID composite

Video showing bird seeking food

Pied Avocet in LRK

Pied Avocet in Little Runn of Kutch, India


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Recurvirostra avosetta". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2012: e.T22693712A38534148. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2012-1.RLTS.T22693712A38534148.en. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  2. ^ Linnaeus, Carl (1758). Systema Naturae per Regna Tria Naturae, Secundum Classes, Ordines, Genera, Species, cum Characteribus, Differentiis, Synonymis, Locis (in Latin). Vol. I (10th revised ed.). Holmiae: (Laurentii Salvii). p. 151 – via The Internet Archive.
  3. ^ a b Lockwood, W. B. (1993). The Oxford Dictionary of British Bird Names. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-866196-2.
  4. ^ "Recurvirostra avosetta". Avibase.
  5. ^ Sibley, Charles Gald; Monroe, Burt Leavelle (1990). Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World. Yale University Press. p. 246. ISBN 0300049692.
  6. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 266. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  7. ^ Thomas, Gavin H.; Wills, Matthew A.; Székely, Tamás (2004). "A supertree approach to shorebird phylogeny". BMC Evolutionary Biology. 4: 28. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-4-28. PMC 515296. PMID 15329156. Supplementary Material
  8. ^ a b c The Birds of the Western Palearctic (Abridged ed.). Oxford University Press. 1997. ISBN 0-19-854099-X.
  9. ^ Moreira, Francisco (1995). "The winter feeding ecology of Avocets Recurvirostra avosetta on intertidal areas. I. Feeding strategies". Ibis. 137 (1): 92–98. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919x.1995.tb03224.x. Archived from the original on 2013-01-05.
  10. ^ "Birds return after 200 year gap". BBC. 15 June 2008. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  11. ^ "Newport Wetlands National Nature Reserve". Natural Resources Wales. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  12. ^ "RSPB's emblem bird, the avocet, breeds at RSPB Skinflats for the first time". Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Retrieved 21 July 2018.

External links

African skimmer

The African skimmer (Rynchops flavirostris) is a near-threatened species of bird belonging to the skimmer genus Rynchops in the family Laridae. It is found along rivers, lakes and lagoons in Sub-Saharan Africa.


The four species of avocets are a genus, Recurvirostra, of waders in the same avian family as the stilts. The genus name cames from Latin recurvus, "curved backwards" and rostrum, "bill". The common name is thought to derive from the Italian ( Ferrarese) word avosetta. Francis Willughby in 1678 noted it as the "Avosetta of the Italians".

Avocet Line

The Avocet Line is the railway line in England connecting Exeter with Exmouth. It was originally built by the London and South Western Railway, and was historically known as the Exmouth branch railway. The line follows the Exe Estuary for about half of its route, from just outside Topsham (on the Exmouth end) to Exmouth, giving views of the estuary. The line is named after the pied avocet, which lives in the estuary.


Balgö is an island and a nature reserve in Kattegat, off Tångaberg in Varberg Municipality, Sweden. Balgö is the largest island in Halland. The nature reserve was established in 1950. Some smaller islands around Balgö are also included in the nature reserve.

Balgö is an important breeding and resting place for different birds, for example little tern, pied avocet and common eider. In the winters, there are white-tailed eagles in the area.

135 species of lichens have been found on Balgö.

Balgö has the largest population of natterjack toads in Halland.

Birding in Chennai

Housing more than 200 resident and wintering bird species, Chennai (formerly known as Madras) has long been a haven for bird watchers. It is the one of the few urban areas in India with diverse range of birds including greater flamingo, black baza, osprey, Eurasian eagle-owl, malabar barbet, Spot billed pelican and pied avocet can be seen. The following are some known birding hotspots in and around Chennai.

Blackwater Estuary

The Blackwater Estuary is the estuary of the River Blackwater between Maldon and West Mersea in Essex. It is a 5,538 hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). An area of 4,395 hectares is also designated a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance, and a Special Protection Area 1,099 hectares is a National Nature Reserve. Tollesbury Wick and part of Abbotts Hall Farm, both nature reserve managed by the Essex Wildlife Trust, are in the SSSI.Oysters have been harvested from the estuary for more than a thousand years and there are remains of fish weirs from the Anglo-Saxon era. At the head of the estuary is the town of Maldon, which is a centre of salt production. The other major settlement is the town West Mersea, of Mersea Island, on the northern seaward side. Numerous other villages are on its banks.

Within the estuary is Northey Island which was the location for the first experiments in the UK in 'managed retreat', i.e. creating saltmarsh by setting sea walls back from what are perceived to be unsustainable positions. The area is notable as a breeding area for little tern (Sternula albifrons) and as a transit point for ringed plover (Charadrius hiaticula).

Over-wintering species

Pied avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)

Black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa islandica)

Dark-bellied brent goose (Branta bernicla bernicla)

Dunlin (Calidris alpina alpina)

Eurasian golden plover (Pluvialis apricaria)

Grey plover (Pluvialis squatarola)

Hen harrier (Circus cyaneus)

Common redshank (Tringa totanus)

Ringed plover (Charadrius hiaticula)

Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)

Common shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)The Estuary is also the current mooring location for the Ross Revenge, the home of former pirate station Radio Caroline

False Bay Park

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Getterön Nature Reserve

Getterön Nature Reserve (Swedish: Getteröns naturreservat) is a nature reserve at Getterön in Varberg Municipality, Sweden. It consists of parts of the peninsula Getterön and an area to the north. It has an area of 350 hectares, of which 235 are land. The reserve was established in 1970.

Getterön Nature Reserve is protected as a Natura 2000 site and included in the Ramsar list.

Getterön Nature Reserve is one of northern Europe's premier birdwatching sites. In the reserve's wetland nesting species like gadwall, garganey, black-tailed godwit, ruff, dunlin, little tern, and pied avocet. The pied avocet also serves as a symbol for the nature reserve. Also in the winters there are many different species at Getterön, for example little grebe, water rail, common kingfisher, Eurasian bittern, bearded reedling, whooper swan, and smew. Also birds of prey, like the peregrine falcon, are common.

Holme Dunes

Holme Dunes is a 192-hectare (470-acre) nature reserve near Holme-next-the-Sea in Norfolk. It is managed by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, and is a National Nature Reserve. It is part of the North Norfolk Coast Site of Special Scientific Interest, Geological Conservation Review site, Nature Conservation Review site, Grade I, Ramsar site, Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Area. It is also in the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.The reserve's sand dunes, salt marsh, pasture and pools are important for breeding birds like pied avocet, and wintering ducks, geese and waders. There are a range of coastal habitats including, freshwater pools, grazing marsh and saltmarsh. Much of the site consists of natural habitats maintained largely by coastal processes.

Jacques Van Impe

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Kempton Park Reservoirs

Kempton Park Reservoirs are a Site of Special Scientific Interest in the London Borough of Hounslow and Kempton Park in Surrey. It is owned by Thames Water. It is part of South West London Waterbodies Ramsar site and Special Protection Area Kempton Park East reservoir is also a local nature reserve.

Merja Zerga

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A Ramsar Convention site, the lagoon hosts 100 bird species and has been identified as a key site on the East Atlantic Flyway. Between 15,000 and 30,000 ducks overwinter at the lagoon, and it regularly holds 50,000 to 100,000 waders. Its permanent species include Asio capensis. Winter visitors include ruddy shelduck, common shelduck, gadwall, Eurasian wigeon, northern shoveler, marbled teal, greater flamingo, common coot, pied avocet, grey plover, and slender-billed curlew.

Oare Marshes

Oare Marshes is a 71.4-hectare (176-acre) Local Nature Reserve north of Faversham in Kent. It is owned and managed by Kent Wildlife Trust. It is part of The Swale Nature Conservation Review site, Grade I, National Nature Reserve, Ramsar internationally important wetland site, Special Protection Area under the European Union Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds, and Site of Special Scientific Interest.

RSPB Frampton Marsh

Frampton Marsh is a nature reserve in Lincolnshire, England. The reserve is situated on the coast of The Wash, some 4 miles from the town of Boston, between the outfalls of the Rivers Welland and Witham (covering an area of mature salt marsh known as The Scalp), and near the village of Frampton. Most of the reserve is managed by the RSPB with part managed by the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust. There is a small visitor centre at the entrance to the reserve.

Thousands of migrating birds gather at Frampton Marsh. Species which can be observed here include pied avocet, common redshank and curlew. The reserve has recorded many nationally rare bird species, such as oriental pratincole, collared pratincole, lesser yellowlegs, baird's sandpiper, broad-billed sandpiper, white-rumped sandpiper, pectoral sandpiper, long-billed dowitcher and stilt sandpiper.


The Recurvirostridae are a family of birds in the wader suborder Charadrii. It contains two distinct groups of birds, the avocets (one genus) and the stilts (two genera).

Richard Kendall Brooke

Richard Kendall Brooke (1930 – 12 May 1996) was a South African ornithologist.

Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary

For the other Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, see Thattekad Bird Sanctuary.Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is an estuarine mangrove habitat, which is declared as the bird sanctuary, and located on western tip of the Island of Chorão along the Mandovi River, Goa, in India. The sanctuary is named after Salim Ali, the eminent Indian ornithologist.

The sanctuary and island are accessed by a ferry service running between Ribander and Chorão. The sanctuary has a paved walk that runs between mangroves of Rhizophora mucronata, Avicennia officinalis and other species.salim Ali loves not only a birds but also children very much.

Satchinez swamps

The Satchinez swamps (or Banat delta; Romanian: Mlaștinile Satchinez) form a ornithological nature reservation that spreads over 242 hectares (600 acres) near Satchinez, in Timiș County, Romania. It was founded in 1942, at Dionisie Linția's proposal. The reservation was expanded to cover 1,194 hectares (2,950 acres) in 2002. The swamps of Satchinez were declared as a protected area in 1999, during the project Life Natura. The European Commission invested 3.5 million lei in the area.

This natural habitat is a reminiscence of the old swamps that covered these lands until the 8th century. The lush vegetation represents a very good camouflage during the nesting season, and the reservation is home to large numbers of protected birds including the pied avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta), the little egret (Egretta garzetta), the great egret (Egretta alba), the black-winged stilt (Himantopus himantopus), the grey heron (Ardea cinerea), the squacco heron (Ardeola ralloides), the little bittern (Ixobrychus minutus), the purple heron (Ardea purpurea) and the black-crowned night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax). Foxes, rabbits, deers and wild boars can also be seen.

The reservation can be visited between 15 April and 15 September, and during mild autumns, the reservation can be visited until October.


Utersum (Fering North Frisian: Ödersem, Danish: Yttersum) is a municipality on the island of Föhr, in the district of Nordfriesland, in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. The municipality includes the hamlet of Hedehusum.

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