Wild life and nature of Samos, Ikaria & Fournoi

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Birds

Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)

Description

The Pied Avocet has black and white plumage, a long upward curved black bill, and long, grey-blue legs with webbed toes. The female can often be recognised from the male by a pale area around the bill base, a subtle eye-ring, a brownish tinge and a sorter bill. The juveniles have brown, not black, markings.The Pied Avocet use a feeding unique that involves scything their bills from side to side in water

Habitat

It habituates muddy estuaries, shallow coastal lagoons, and saltpans, sandy beaches, flood-plains, coastal and inland saline lakes as well as freshwater lakes. Two important features of the breeding habitat are a gradual decline of the water level exposing further feeding areas, and a high concentration of salt.The Pied Avocet is a gregarious species throughout much of the year. Before migration, in late July to September, they congregate in large flocks for moulting. In winter and during migration, they form tightly packed roosting flocks of up to several thousand individuals.  They migrate in loose flocks and forage in groups of five to 30 individuals, gathering to form a large flock for roosting.

Diet

Pied Avocets feed on aquatic insects, small crustaceans, marine worms, molluscs, small fish and some plant matter. Prey is usually 4 to 16 cm in size and is located by sweeping the long-curved bill side-to-side through water. Although it can swim, the Pied Avocet is essentially a wading bird, preferring water about 10 cm deep.

Protection status

This species is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.

Interesting Facts

The Pied Avocets’ successful recolonization at Minsmere, Suffolk, United Kingdom in 1947 led to its adoption as the logo of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

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