Pied Avocet

Pied Avocet Fats
Size 16.5 - 18 inch (42 - 45 cm); bill 1.1 - 1.5 inch (3 - 4 cm)
Speed Up to 25 mph (40 km/h)
Weight 5 - 14 oz (140 - 400 g)
Lifespan 10 - 15 years
Food Insects, fish, crustaceans
Predators Dogs, cats, weasels
Habitat Europe, Northern Asia
Order Charadriiformes
Family Recurvirostridae
Scientific name Recurvirostra avosetta
Characteristics Long, upcurved bill

The pied avocet is a black and white bird with a very long, upturned beak. He lives and breeds in the coastal areas of Europe and Central Asia. In winter, the bird moves to warmer areas - to Africa or South Asia.

Why Does This Bird Have a Curved Bill?

The avocet uses its bill to search for food. It puts its bill into the shallow water and sweeps it from side to side to scare up little animals and catch them.

Pied Avocet Pied Avocet - Photo: David Acosta Allely/Shutterstock

Lawnmower Birds

When the bird sweeps its bill from side to side, it looks as if it would mow the grass with a saber. It is rather funny to watch if several birds join up to mow together.

“Watch out! High Water! Use Your Stilts!“

Avocets build their nests in little hollows in the ground. If the water is rising, the parent birds place little sticks, branches and feathers under the nest to lift it.

I Am Injured, I Am Injured!

The avocets have come up with a trick to distract nest robbers. They act as if they were injured and try to attract the attention of the attacker.

They croak and limp away from the nest. An injured bird is an easy prey, so the enemy attacks it first – and is regularly in for a shock.

Pied Avocet Pied Avocet - Photo: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH/Shutterstock

Trouble is in the Air!

Nose diving is another tactic maneuver of the avocet to keep other animals away from the nest.

The bird flies a high-speed attack against the enemy and peels off at the last second. It repeats this maneuver until the unnerved nest robber gives up and goes away.

Sometimes the avocet is so enraged that it even attacks ravens and hawks, which are significantly larger and stronger. The nest and the kids are just more important.

Grown Up Quickly

Most bird kids spend several weeks in the nest of their parents and get fed. The little avocets leave the nest within the first 24 hours already and are able to waddle, swim, and dive.

Pied Avocet Pied Avocet - Photo: Wang LiQiang/Shutterstock

Avocet Sing-Song

Another trick: In dangerous situations the avocet utters a series of sounds and slightly varies the pitch level. This sounds as if the avocet would approach the enemy much faster than it really does.

It imitates the so-called Doppler effect. But what does this mean? Just think of a fire truck siren. As long as the truck is approaching you, the siren sounds higher.

When the truck is driving away from you, it sounds deeper. This phenomenon is related to the sound waves. As long as the car is approaching you it kind of pushes the sound waves (noises) ahead and compresses them, so that they sound higher.

Pied Avocet Pied Avocet - Photo: aDam Wildlife/Shutterstock


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