Body length: 42 – 46 cm. Width of the wings: 77 – 80 cm. Weight 250 to 400 g. Longevity: 25 years.
The Pied Avocet is a striking white wader with bold black markings. Adults have white plumage except for a black cap and black patches in the wings and on the back. They have long, upturned bills and long, bluish legs. Males and females look alike. The juvenile resembles the adult but with more greyish and sepia tones.
The call of the avocet is a far-carrying, liquid, melodious “kluit- kluit” or “klip-klip”.
Distribution and Habitat
The Pied Avocet is spread in Central and Southern Europe, Africa, Western Asia, North America and Australia. Winters in Africa, South Asia, Balkan Peninsula and along the Mediterranean and Caspian seas. The northern populations migrate to the south between August and October and return to breeding between March and May.
The Pied Avocet inhabits salty, brackish or fresh water ponds, salted terrains, sandy ponds, fishponds, artificial ponds, river estuaries and flooded plains in arid areas. The most important characteristic of breeding habitats is the high salinity and the level of water, which in the summer gradually decreases and places additional feeding places. Rarely occurs near the inland freshwater lakes and rivers.
In Bulgaria, the Pied Avocet comes in March and leaves in September and October. It is mainly found in Atanasovsko Lake, Pomorie Lake, Poda Protected Site, Shabla Tuzla and other wetlands along the Black Sea coast but during the migratory period it can be found near the internal waters of the country. Individuals stay in our country during the winter.
The Pied Avocet food consists mainly of aquatic invertebrates of between 4 and 15 cm in length, including water insects, small beetles, flies, fly larvae, crustaceans, worms and mollusks that collect on the mud bottom of spills. Sometimes it feeds on small fish and plant debris, seeds and small roots. When looking for food immerses in the water the head, neck and the front of his body. It is active at dawn and at dusk, but it can also feed on moonlight.
The Pied Avocet lives on colonies, usually between 10 and 70 pairs. In migrations and in winter they are found in the flocks in various wetlands. For overnight stays they gather in large flocks of several thousand individuals.
In the formation of the breeding pair, the male shakes. The nest can be located in different locations, including bare sand, dried mud, short grass, dry vegetation, debris and waste. It is a pond covered with grass and aquatic plants. The Pied Avocet nests in large colonies, with the distance between two adjacent nests usually about one meter, but can also be 20 – 30 cm. The female lays 3-4 eggs, stained with black and gray spots. The two birds hatch them together in shifts for 22-24 days. In case of danger, the two adult birds pretend to be injured and gradually move away from the nest. At that time, the little ones are hanging on the ground or hiding between the marsh plants.
According to the Red Book of Bulgaria, the species is considered to be endangered.