The four species of avocets // are a genus, Recurvirostra, of waders in the same avian family as the stilts. The genus name comes from Latin recurvus, "curved backwards" and rostrum, "bill". The common name is thought to derive from the Italian (Ferrarese) word avosetta. Francis Willughby in 1678 noted it as the "Avosetta of the Italians".
|Look up avocet in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
Avocets have long legs and they sweep their long, thin, upcurved bills from side to side when feeding in the brackish or saline wetlands they prefer. The plumage is pied, sometimes also with some red.
Members of this genus have webbed feet and readily swim. Their diet consists of aquatic insects and other small creatures.
The four species, all in the genus Recurvirostra, are:
|Recurvirostra americana||American avocet||Central/Western United States, Southern Florida, Mexico, Saskatchewan, and Alberta.|
|Recurvirostra andina||Andean avocet||Argentina, western Bolivia, northern Chile and southern Peru.|
|Recurvirostra avosetta||Pied avocet||temperate Europe and western and Central Asia|
|Recurvirostra novaehollandiae||Red-necked avocet||Australia|
There is one fossil species: Recurvirostra sanctaneboulae Mourer-Chauviré, 1978 from the late Eocene of France.
In a large colony they are aggressively defensive and chase off any other species of birds that try to nest among or near them. That causes the annoyed remark "Avocet: Exocet" from some British birdwatchers.
They had been extirpated in Britain for a long time because of land reclamation of their habitat and persecution by skin and egg collectors, but during or soon after World War II started breeding on reclaimed land near the Wash which was returned to salt marsh to make difficulties for any landing German invaders. Avocets use Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve as a summer breeding ground.
- Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 266. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
- Swann, H. Kirke (1913). A dictionary of English and folk-names of British Birds. London: Witherby and Co. p. 9.
- BBC TV 1 program The One Show, 7–7:30 p.m. 16 January 2008
- "Cottage Hide". www.hants.gov.uk. Retrieved 3 June 2019.