Avocet

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Dear explorer, Dear explorers!

You can't miss me in the national park Neusiedler See - Seewinkel , because with my distinctive sabre-like curved beak I am one of the most conspicuous waders. If you want to see and observe me, the avocet, you have to come to the area from the beginning of March to mid-October. I am on the move in the soda pools in search of food in the water and am unmistakable due to my black and white plumage coloration and my long legs and upward-curved bill.

Read on and find out more about me!

Image credit: Prunelle92, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Header image credit: Charles J. Sharp, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Length: 42-46 cm
  • Wingspan: 72 cm
  • Beak length: 7-8 cm
  • Weight: 140-400 g
  • Nest: on the ground on sand and mud banks, a few centimeters above the water surface
  • Breeding season: April - August
  • Eggs: 3-4
  • Life expectancy: 24 years

Unmistakable wading bird that stands out with its black and white plumage, thin upturned bill and long, blue-grey legs. The upper head and neck of the avocet are black. The shoulders and wing tips are also black. Both sexes look the same, although the females have a slightly more curved bill.

The most common call of the avocet is the very typical "plütt plütt plütt". The birds react very quickly to disturbance and emit a shrill and rapid "quick quik quik".

The avocet searches for food in shallow water or thin mud. With oscillating head movements and a slightly open beak, it fishes polychaetes (small annelids belonging to the polychaete family), small crustaceans and insect larvae out of the water. The avocet also gets its name from the way it feeds. This is because it "sabres" rhythmically in the water with its slightly open beak to capture its food.

Image credit: 0x010C, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Image credit: Ryan Hodnett, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Image credit: BS Thurner Hof, Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, via Wikimedia Commons

The breeding season of the avocet is from April to August and they only breed once a year in temperate to subtropical regions in small colonies. However, they can also lay replacement nests until June/July. The male builds the nest. It is a simple hollow on grass, mud or sand and hardly any nesting material is brought in. Both the female and the male breed and as a pair they vehemently defend their territory against other avocets and intruders.

The female lays 3-4 eggs and these are then incubated for 22-24 days. The young birds are then ready to fledge after approx. 28-32 days and are still molted during this time. The young are not fed, however, as they are nest fledglings and search for food with their short, not yet curved beaks.

The avocet is a wading bird that occurs in many parts of the world. It is widespread in Eurasia and Africa. But the species is also found in India, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and the African coast. In Austria, it is a regular breeding bird in Burgenland, otherwise a rare migrant in Styria and Upper Austria. As a migratory bird, the avocet winters in African coastal areas and sometimes even in Asia.

Picture credits: © Katharina Schabl

The avocet lives in wetlands with shallow waters, salt pans and salt marshes. However, it also occurs in estuaries, sea bays or vegetation-free shallow water zones. The breeding areas are primarily near brackish and saltwater lagoons in coastal regions or inland on steppe lakes. During migration, it also rests near freshwater lakes inland.

The avocet is classified as endangered in Austria, as its population is dependent on the continued existence of the pied avocet. However, humans also pose a threat due to their disturbance, environmental pollution and the drainage of wetlands. Conservation measures and the protection of wetlands are crucial for the long-term survival of these fascinating birds.

The avocet can be observed from early March to mid-October in the Neusiedler See area on the intact soda pools of the Seewinkel. It can also be found on the Hungarian side of the national park in Mekszikópuszta. Its striking white plumage makes it very easy to spot.

Regardless of which theme you go on safari with us in spring and summer, the avocet is an unmistakable bird that you can observe from a distance around the Lacken with binoculars or a spotting scope without disturbing it. You can learn a lot about the avocet on a birdwatching safari, where other bird species are also shown and explained by one of our expert St. Martins rangers.

Test your knowledge!

Discover a new species each month and, with a little luck, win a Seewinkel-Safari voucher for two.

Good luck with your participation and explorer greetings,
your nature experience team of the St. Martins Spa  &Lodge

Conditions of participation:
The current competition will run until June 30, 2024 and the winner of a safari voucher for two will be selected from all participants with the correct answer in camera. The winner will be notified via email . Cash redemption of the prize and legal recourse are excluded.

Avocets live*
What does the avocet eat?*
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