American Avocet - Recurvirostra americana
A large slender shorebird with a long, slender, recurved bill (longer and straighter in males than in females), long spindly legs, and a long neck; wings and back are boldly patterned with black and white; belly and flanks are white; head and neck and rusty in breeding plumage, gray in basic plumage; juveniles have a cinnamon wash on the head and neck; average length 46 cm.
No other North American shorebird with a recurved bill has both a white belly and bold black and white patterning on the folded wings and back.
Western Hemisphere Range
Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations:
(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version)
Map Help and Descriptions
(direct evidence "B")
(indirect evidence "b")
No evidence of Breeding
(regular observations "W")
(at least one obs. "w")
(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)
In the Bozeman area the normal migration periods are from April 25 to May 25 and September 1 to October 5 with peaks on May 10 and September 10.
During the breeding season, they are found in marshes, ponds, mud flats, and alkaline lakes. During migration, American Avocets are found in salt marshes or lagoons with muddy shorelines. They winter in thick, silted tidal flats and areas of intertidal mudflats.
Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
- Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
How Associations Were Made
We associated the use and habitat quality (high, medium, or low) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for
vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
- Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2001, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
- Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species’ range and habitat requirements;
- Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point database associated with each ecological system;
- Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of “observations versus availability of habitat”.
Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.
In general, species were associated as using an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.
However, species were not associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if
point observations were associated with that system.
High, medium, and low habitat quality was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species in the literature.
The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignments of habitat quality.
If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact Bryce Maxell at email@example.com
or (406) 444-3655.
Suggested Uses and Limitations
Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.
These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: http://mtnhp.org/requests/default.asp
) or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.
Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.
Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.
Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).
Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species’ known geographic range.
- Adams, R.A. 2003. Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado. 289 p.
- Dobkin, D. S. 1992. Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34. Missoula, MT.
- Foresman, K.R. 2001. The wild mammals of Montana. Special Publication No. 12. Lawrence, KS: The American Society of Mammalogists. 278 p.
- Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998. Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates. Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT. 1302 p.
- Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young. 1999. Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32. 72 p.
- Maxell, B.A. 2000. Management of Montana’s amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species. Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1. Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana. 161 p.
- Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath. 2004. Amphibians and reptiles of Montana. Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.
American Avocets forage in shallow mud flats in search of aquatic invertebrates, small fish, and insects in the water column.
Nesting is in late May and June.
- Additional ReferencesLegend: View Online Publication
Do you know of a citation we're missing?
- American Ornithologists' Union. 1998. Check-list of North American birds. 7th edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. 829 pp.
- Carlsen, Tom, and Rick Northrup, 1992, Canyon Ferry Wildlife Management Area Final Draft Management Plan. March 1992.
- Colwell, M.A. and L.W. Oring. 1990. Nest site characteristics of prairie shorebirds. Can. J. Zool. 68: 297-302.
- Dole, D.A. 1986. Nesting and foraging behavior of American Avocets. Master of Arts thesis. University of Montana, Missoula. 85 pp.
- Ehrlich, P., D. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder’s handbook: a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon and Schuster Inc. New York. 785 pp.
- Golden Sunlight Mines, Inc., Whitehall, MT., 2000, Golden Sunlight Mines, Inc., Annual Permit Reports.
- Grover, P. B. and F. L. Knopf. 1982. Habitat requirements and breeding success of charadriiform birds nesting at Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma. J. Field Ornithol. 53:139-148.
- Hayman, P., J. Marchant, and T. Prater. 1986. Shorebirds: an identification guide to the waders of the world. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston. 412 pp.
- Johnsgard, P. 1981. The Plovers, Sandpipers, and Snipes of the World. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, Nebraska. 493 pp.
- Johnsgard, P.A. 1979. Birds of the Great Plains: breeding species and their distribution. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln. 539 pp.
- Johnsgard, P.A. 1992. Birds of the Rocky Mountains with particular reference to national parks in the northern Rocky Mountain region. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. xi + 504 pp.
- Kantrud, H.A. and R.E. Stewart. 1984. Ecological distribution and crude density of breeding birds on prairie wetlands. J. Wildl. Manage. 48(2): 426-437.
- Kuyt, E. and B.W. Johns. 1992. Recent American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana) breeding records in the Northwest Territories, with notes on avocet parasitism of Mew Gull (Larus canus) nests. Can. Field-Nat. 106(4): 507-510.
- Lambing, John H., et al., 1994, Physical, chemical, and biological data for detailed study of the Sun River Irrigation Project, Freezout Lake Wildlife Management Area, and Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge, west-central Montana, 1990-92, with selected data for 1987-89. May 1994. Open-file report 94-120.
- Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2002: Beaverhead Gateway, Dillon, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.011. February 2003. In 2002 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. I.
- Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2002: Fourchette Creek Reservoir Complex, Phillips County, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.023. February 2003. In 2002 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. I.
- Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2002: Perry Ranch, Glacier Co., Montana. Proj. No. 130091.020. May 2003. In 2002 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. II.
- Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2002: Roundup Wetland, Roundup, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.031. February 2003. In 2002 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. II.
- Lenard, S.J. Carlson, J. Ellis, C. Jones, and C. Tilly. 2003. P. D. Skaar's Montana Bird Distribution, 6th Edition. Montana Audubon: Helena, MT, 144 pp.
- Montana Bird Distribution Committee. 2012. P.D. Skaar's Montana bird distribution. 7th Edition. Montana Audubon, Helena, Montana. 208 pp. + foldout map.
- Montana Dept. of Transportation., 200?, Montana Dept. of Transportation Biological Resources Report: Wetland mitigation east of Browning. Montana Wetland ?? Proj. No. NH 0002(232) CN 0703. In Perry Ranch - East of Browning Wetland Mitigation Site, Glacier County. US#3. Man.? Fin Dist3 Admin.Dist3
- Page, G.W. and R.E. Gill, Jr. 1994. Shorebirds in western North America: late 1800s to late 1900s. Studies in Avian Biology, Number 15: 147-160.
- Palawski, D.U., et al., 1991, Contaminant biomonitoring at the Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge in 1988.
- Powder River Eagle Studies, Inc., Gillette, WY., 2002, Spring Creek Mine 2001 Wildlife Monitoring. March 2002
- Robinson, Julie A., Lewis W. Oring, Joseph P. Skorupa, and Ruth Boettcher. 1997. American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana). Species Account Number 275. The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca, NY: Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology; Retrieved 3/25/2008 from The Birds of North America Online database
- Sibley, D. 2014. The Sibley guide to birds. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY. 598 pp.
- Sidle, J.G. and P.M. Arnold. 1982. Nesting of the American Avocet in North Dakota. Prairie Nat. 14(3): 73-80.
- Skaar, P.D. 1969. Birds of the Bozeman latilong: a compilation of data concerning the birds which occur between 45 and 46 N. latitude and 111 and 112 W. longitude, with current lists for Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, impinging Montana counties and Yellowstone National Park. Bozeman, MT. 132 p.
- Stewart, R.E. 1975. Breeding birds of North Dakota. Tri-College Center for Environmental Studies, Fargo, North Dakota. 295 pp.
- Thunderbird Wildlife Consulting, Inc., Gillette, WY., 2003, Spring Creek Mine 2002 Wildlife Monitoring. March 2003.
- U.S. Forest Service. 1991. Forest and rangeland birds of the United States: Natural history and habitat use. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Agricultural Handbook 688. 625 pages.
- Western Technology and Engineering, Inc. (WESTECH). 1994. Wildlife Monitoring Absaloka Mine Area Annual Report, 1993. Montana SMP 85005. OSMP Montana 0007C. Mar. 12, 1994.
- Wetlands West, Inc., Bozeman, MT., and Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2001: Roundup Wetland, Roundup, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.031. July 2002. In 2001 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. II.
- Zackheim, Karen, 1973?, Exhibit H: Wildlife Study. In Ash Grove Cement Co. files.