Friday, November 15, 2013

Creature Feature #31: Avocet

Avocets are large wading birds related to stilts. There are four species, colonising North America, South America, Europe and Australia (with the occasional straggler to New Zealand). With their long necks and bills they are predominently wading birds, although their feet are webbed and they are also able swimmers. Their long bills curve upwards at the tip and they swish these through brackish water, collecting invetebrates that they displace.

The Pied Avocet of Europe (pictured here) is the symbol of the Royal Species for the Protection of Birds in the UK. It became extinct in Great Britain in 1840, due to a combination of land reclaimation and having their eggs and skins collected. However, it returned during World War II and reclaimed land near Wash, which had been returned to its natural saltmarsh state in an effort to stop the landing of enemy craft.

Aggressively defensive birds, they do not like other species near their nesting grounds and will chase off any that try to join them.

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