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COMMON AVOCET (Recurvirostra avosetta) – (Pied avocet)

The Avocet inhabits lagoons, coastal waters, muddy or sandy shores of lakes and shallow marshes and river deltas. It nests scattered over Western, Central and Southern Europe and more continuously in the East of the Black Sea as well as in some regions of Africa. The populations of the southern part of their range are sedentary or nomadic; between July and September the ones in the North migrate in winter to the Atlantic coasts of Western Europe but also to the Mediterranean region and Africa up to the Ecuador.

Between the end of March and May, the avocets return to their breeding grounds and the laying of the eggs takes place between May and June. They usually nest in colonies and their nuptial stop is also collective. The birds place themselves in a circle, they bend, stamp on the ground and emit cries of excitement.

The Avocet´s nest is usually a small upholstered cavity of dry grass, shells and stones. Two adults incubate the eggs by shifts during 24 or 25 days approximately and the laying of the eggs normally consists of 3 to 4, yellowish green or brownish olive, with brown-black spotted eggs. When one parent relieves the other from the incubation a curious ceremony takes place; first it runs several times around the nest and throws after it small nearby collected objects. When the bird which is incubating decides to leave from the nest, its substitute turns the eggs carefully before settling on them.  I can assure you that it is an authentic enjoyment to be able to assist to this ceremony in its total observation.

The appearance of the Avocet is quite unusual, it is of a size a bit more bigger than a large pigeon, it has a contrasted black and white plumage and long greyish-blue feet. Its long black peak which narrows clearly towards the tip is quite spectacular, as it curves upwards. This form is linked to the way of collecting food; the avocets fish aquatic insects and larvae, crustaceans, molluscs, worms and small fry, walking slowly through the water and swinging sharply its peak towards the left to right or vice versa.

Félix Oró Izquierdo,

Photographer and naturalist