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Marshbirds and Shorebirds of North Dakota

American Avocet

AMERICAN AVOCET Recurvirostra americana L18" (46cm)

The American avocet, with its peculiar upturned bill, large size, and striking coloration is one of the easiest shorebirds to identify. The bill of the female American avocet is shorter and more strongly curved than the male's. It favors dry stony ground with sparse vegetation in which to nest. The nest consists of a slight hollow in the ground and is usually lined with grass. When water levels rise, a pair will often build up the nest with sticks, bones, and feathers to keep the eggs from becoming wet. The female lays 3-4 eggs with an incubation period lasting 23-25 days. Soon after hatching, the downy chicks leave the nest and begin to feed alongside the adults. The diet of the American avocet consists of aquatic insects, crustaceans, and seeds of aquatic plants. Its feeding technique consists of walking slowly in shallow water and sweeping its bill from side to side. This technique causes insects to rise to the surface where they are easily preyed upon by the avocet.

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