Pied Avocet

(Recurvirostra avosetta)




Facts about this animal

The avocet is a long-legged wader with a total length of 43 cm. Sexes look alike and there is no seasonal variation in appearance.

The upper half of the head, hindneck, inner scapulars, lesser and median wing-coverts are all-black, the outer scapulars and greater coverts are blackish-brown, and the rest of the plumage is white.

The characteristic bill is long, slender and upturned, and black in colour. The legs are black. The iris of males is red, of females brown.

The avocet usually nests in colonies, on small islands, in pans and on sand banks, The nest is a scrape lined with twigs and grass. The female lays 3-5, usually 4 eggs, which are greenish-grey with blackish and greyish spots and lines, and measure 52X35 mm. The eggs are incubated by both parents for 22-24 days. The young fledge at an age of about 40 days.

Avocets feed on aquatic insects, crustaceans, molluscs and annelids.

Did you know?
that, as a defense, avocets usually use distraction tactics such as loud screeching, a "crippled bird" act, and even a "dive bomb" display where the bird will swoop down on the predator and narrowly miss it until the intruder turns away?


Class AVES
Name (Scientific) Recurvirostra avosetta
Name (English) Pied Avocet
Name (French) Avocette élégante
Name (German) Säbelschnäbler
Name (Spanish) Avoceta común
Local names Afrikaans: Bontelsie
Dutch: Kluut
Hungarian: Gulipán
Italian: Avocetta
Polish: Szablodziób
Romansh: Gambun grond
Swedish: Skärfläcka
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Appendix II (as Recurvirostridae spp.) Included in AEWA



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Range Africa: Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Western Sahara, Zambia, Zimbabwe. Vagrants in: Benin, Burundi, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Congo DR, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Madagascar, Rwanda, Togo Asia: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Korea Rep., Kuwait, Lebanon, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, Yemen. Vagrants in Korea DPR, Qatar, United Arab Emirates Europe Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Libya, Macedonia former Yug. Rep., Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom. Vagrants in Faeroe Islands, Finland, Gibraltar, Iceland, Latvia, Luxembourg
Habitat Coastal estuaries, shallow wetlands, in particular also saline inland lakes.
Wild population Global population estimated to be in the order of 210,000–460,000 individuals.
Zoo population 581 reported to ISIS (2008)

In the Zoo

Pied Avocet


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 11H of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
BS Thurner Hof

Why do zoos keep this animal

Pied avocets are not a threatened species. Zoos keep them for educational purposes and as an ambassador species for marine and coastal conservation.