Lousiana birding in winter? You may spot an American avocet. Photo by Kyle Carlsen

American Avocet

Look For

The graceful curves of the American avocet’s bill and neck serve it well as it feeds while walking along, sweeping the bill back and forth in shallow water. In spring and summer, adults have rusty heads and necks. In winter, the heads are gray. Black wings are divided by white.

Listen For

A clear, high-pitched pwee-eep!


In winter plumage, the American avocet’s head is gray, making it look more like the black-necked stilt than it does in summer, when its head is rusty. Check the bills and legs. Avocets have long blue-gray legs and upturned bills. Silts have pink legs and straight bills.

Find It

Avocets are found in shallow marshes, lakes, and wetlands. They nest in loose colonies. They are often found in flocks, sometimes associated with black-necked stilts.


The bill of the female avocet is more sharply upturned than that of the male. Why? No one knows.

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