Pied avocet

Recurvirostra avosetta

The pied avocet lives in estuaries and salt marshes, where its black and white plumage, long legs and long, slender, curved bill make it unmistakable. It nests in colonies on the ground, on sandbanks or in meadows near the water.

It feeds in shallow water, moving its bill from side to side to stir up the bottom, and sifting through the mud raised to capture the small invertebrates which are its main diet.

Natural habit

Europe, southern Sahara, central and eastern Asia

Pied avocet
  • Distribution / Resident
  • Breeding
  • Wintering
  • Subspecies

Risk level

  • Extint
  • Extint in the wild
  • Critically endangered
  • In Danger
  • Vulnerable
  • Near threatened
  • Minor concern
  • Insufficient data
  • Not evaluated
Least Concern



Physical characteristics

100-200 g
Birth Weight:
42-46 cm
Up to 10 years


Social life


2 to 6

Discover how they are



The pied avocet is a slender wader, distinguishable for its black and white plumage and, mainly, for its straight thin bill, curved upwards on the tip. Its legs are also long and thin, with a bluish hue, and its fingers are united by an interdigital webbing. Without sexual dimorphism, both sexes have a similar appearance.


It inhabits estuaries, marshlands, muddy beaches and salty shallow lagoons, in a wide distribution area that spreads through Europe, Asia and Africa.


It feeds on a great variety of invertebrates, such as aquatic insects, larvae and smalls crustaceans, which it captures by digging in the mud of waters 20 to 30 cm deep


It reproduces in small colonies, sometimes along with other marshland birds, such as charadrius or sterna. Its nest is just a small land depression covered with leaves, small twigs and other plant materials. It usually lays three to four eggs, that are brooded for 23 to 25 days by both sexes. Chicks are nidifugous and are able to run and feed for themselves shortly after hatching.


In Spain it is a scarce species in the southern part of the country and along the Mediterranean coast, that reproduces only in the wet areas of the south of the peninsula. A small part of the Iberian population is sedentary, although most of them arrive during winter, from northern and eastern Europe, where they reproduce during summer. It is only considered purely sedentary in some areas of southern England and in the Atlantic coast of France, some zones of the Persian Gulf and in almost all southern and eastern Africa.

Status and conservation programs

It is still quite common in many regions of its distribution area and its main threats are the destruction and degradation of the coastal environments it inhabits. In Catalonia it only stays during the winter, although scarcely, but can be quite common in many wet areas of the country. It only breeds regularly in the Ebre delta.