Family Avocets, Stilts (Recurvirostridae)

Least Concern

American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana)


French: Avocette d’Amérique German: Braunhals-Säbelschnäbler Spanish: Avoceta americana

Recurvirostra americana

J. F. Gmelin

, 1789,

North America




S Canada (SE British Columbia E to SW Ontario) and S through W USA (E to C Texas) to N Baja California; S USA (Gulf coast of Texas, formerly farther north); C Mexico (from Coahuila to C Volcanic Belt, also NW Sonora); recently recorded breeding in E Cuba#R. Winters from California and S Texas through Mexico to Guatemala and irregularly to N Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua; also SE USA (S from North Carolina) and, rarely, Bahamas to Cuba.

Descriptive notes

41–51 cm; 215–476 g; wingspan 68 cm; tarsus 85–103 mm. Head, neck and breast orange-brown, becoming pinkish on upper mantle and upper belly, then shading... read more


Gives far-carrying “kleek”, but also repeated melodic “kleet” calls while circling or dive-bombing... read more


Breeds around sparsely vegetated saline lakes and ponds, especially alkaline lakes, lagoons and... read more

Food and feeding

Mainly carnivorous, preying on wide range of mainly aquatic invertebrates including insects and their larvae, crustaceans, molluscs and... read more


Nests in spring and summer in N of range; Apr–Aug in NW Mexico, Mar–Aug in C Mexico, nests with eggs in Jun in Cuba. Pairs form... read more


Mostly migratory with, for example, birds that breed in Great Basin of California/Utah wintering in... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Overall population estimated at 450,000 individuals in early 2000s. Expansive range over North America, where many important sites... read more

Recommended citation

Pierce, R.J. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 25 May 2019).