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The American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana) is a large wader in the avocet and stilt family, Recurvirostridae. This avocet has long, thin, gray legs, giving it its colloquial name, "blue shanks". The plumage is black and white on the back with white on the underbelly. The neck and head are cinnamon colored in the summer and gray in the winter. The long, thin bill is upturned at the end. The adult bird measures in length, and in weight. The breeding habitat is marshes, beaches, prairie ponds, and shallow lakes in the mid-west and on the Pacific coast of North America. American avocets form breeding colonies numbering dozens of pairs. When breeding is over the birds gather in large flocks, sometimes including hundreds of birds. Nesting occurs near water, usually on small islands or boggy shorelines where access by predators is difficult. The female lays four eggs in a saucer-shaped nest, and both sexes take turns incubating them. Upon hatching, the chicks feed themselves; they are never fed by their parents. This species is migratory, and mostly winters on the southern Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Mexico and the United States. The American Avocet forages in shallow water or on mud flats, often sweeping its bill from side to side in water as it seeks its crustacean and insect prey.
The American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana) is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. American Avocet winter plumage.jpg|Winter plumage Nesting American Avocet.jpg|Nesting Avocet four eggs.jpg|Nest with eggs American avocet eggs.jpg|Eggs Recurvirostra americana -Palo Alto Baylands -chick-8b.jpg|Adult with a chick at Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve, California American Avocet1.jpg|Quintana, Texas. Summer Dan pancamo American Avocet 2.jpg|Quintana, Texas. Winter