The icon of bird protection in the United Kingdom, this elegant wader is the symbol of the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds). It was to preserve this bird that the RSPB bought Minsmere, one of their first reserves and still one of the most famous. Later, a splendid colony was fostered on nearby Havergate Island.
The Avocet is black and white with a black head and long blue legs. The feature that characterises it is the re-curved bill - it is very thin, black and up- turned. The birds feed with a swishing to and from motion sieving food items out of the topmost layers of the water.
There are four very similar avocets world-wide and some treat them as one species - the North American ones have a rusty caste to their necks. Their call is a rather liquid, but loud, 'Kloo-it'. Some Northern birds migrate well South for the winter but some stay around in Western Europe. These birds now breed in many places in East Anglia and a few in Kent so that the British breeding population must exceed 500 pairs in some years.
The black and white wader with a thin, up-turned bill.
Length 430 mm (inc. bill and legs) Closed wing 200 mm Weight 280 gms
A Bird On! Sketch by Chris Mead
Copyright © 1996 by Jacobi Jayne & Company and Chris Mead