My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

American Avocet, Recurvirostra americana

Note: this post, while published, is a work in progress, as are all posts in this series, My Photo Life List. My goal is to photograph every species of bird that is seen on a regular basis here in Michigan, working from a list compiled by the Michigan chapter of the Audubon Society. This will be a lifelong project, that I began in January of 2013, and as I shoot better photos of this, or any other species, I will update the post for that species with better photos when I can. While this series is not intended to be a field guide per se, my minimum standard for the photos in this series is that one has to be able to make a positive identification of the species in my photos. The information posted here is from either my observations or the Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, however, I have personally shot all the photos appearing in this series.

American Avocet, Recurvirostra americana

 

The American avocet (Recurvirostra americana) is a large wader in the avocet and stilt family.

This 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 adult bird measures 40–51 cm (16–20 in) in length, 68–76 cm (27–30 in) and 275–420 g (9.7–14.8 oz) in weight.

The breeding habitat is marshes, beaches, prairie ponds, and shallow lakes in the mid-west as far north as southern Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, and on the Pacific coast of North America. 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.

This species is migratory, and mostly winters on the southern Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Mexico and the United States.

The American avocet forages in shallow water or on mud flats, often sweeping its bill from side to side in water as it seeks its crustacean and insect prey.

On to my photos:

American avocet

American avocet

 

American avocet

American avocet

 

American avocet

American avocet

 

American avocet

American avocet

 

American avocet

American avocet

 

American avocet

American avocet

 

American avocet

American avocet

 

American avocet

American avocet

 

American avocet

American avocet

 

American avocet and yellowlegs for size comparison

American avocet and yellowlegs for size comparison

This is number 180 in my photo life list, only 170 to go!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

wordpress_logo_post_whenever2

Advertisements

18 responses

  1. Interesting bill shape on this one, and great shots of it!

    January 7, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    • Thank you Allen! I love it when my first photos of a species are that good.

      January 8, 2016 at 2:44 am

  2. Very cool bird!

    January 7, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    • Thank you very much Bob!

      January 8, 2016 at 2:44 am

  3. Great photo series and I really appreciated the thorough background information you provided.

    January 7, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    • Thank you very much Charlie!

      January 8, 2016 at 2:45 am

  4. Nice of you to provide a shot with the YellowLegs for comparison. I hope you keep working on your list.

    January 7, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    • Thank you very much! I had little to do with positioning those two birds, they did it on their own. 🙂 I am working on my list, but it will take a while to make more progress.

      January 8, 2016 at 2:47 am

  5. Congratulations Jerry!

    January 7, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    • Thank you very much Clare!

      January 8, 2016 at 2:48 am

  6. Well done for getting such good pictures of an interesting bird.

    January 8, 2016 at 3:23 am

    • Thank you very much Susan!

      January 8, 2016 at 3:41 am

  7. He looks rather ungainly and awkward! So, you captured him this summer, and he’s off somewhere else now??

    Interesting…..

    January 8, 2016 at 10:41 am

    • Yes, he’s off somewhere else now, if he’s smart. Sorry, I didn’t have time to work on this series this summer, too many photos to shoot then.

      January 8, 2016 at 11:07 am

  8. I’ve not captured this one…..yet….. 🙂 Beautiful reflection shots, Jerry!

    January 8, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    • Thanks Donna! I’m sure that you’ll get one some day.

      January 9, 2016 at 2:09 am

  9. I great series of photos, Jerry, and I also enjoyed the background information.

    January 9, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    • Thank you very much Lavinia!

      January 9, 2016 at 3:50 pm