The breeding distribution of the American Avocet is in western North America from the southern prairie provinces to central Mexico. In Alberta, this is throughout the grassland and parkland region, and increasingly with extensions into the southern boreal forest region.
Earliest arrivals are reported on 6 April. Most autumn departures are by late September, but there are many records into late October and one sighting as late as 9 Nov. (2003). In 1975, one was recorded on the Lethbridge Christmas Bird Count on 26 Dec. Nesting is initiated by early May. They will occupy most shallow wetlands in urban or rural areas, preferably those with sparse shoreline vegetation and particularly alkaline ones. Usually only a few individuals are present at any one site, but 155 birds were observed within Calgary on 84/88St SE in late April 2000.
Feeding by sweeping its bill from side to side in scythe-like motions, it intercepts aquatic insects and crustacea, and seeds of aquatic and marsh plants. It also picks insects from the water surface.
The nest site is usually on the sun-dried mud of a slough or alkaline wetland. It is usually just a depression in the open, although later it may be hidden by weeds. Four eggs are laid and incubated by both sexes for 22-24 days. The young are capable of running and feeding themselves as soon as dry, but are protected by the adults. They achieve full independence when about 6 weeks old.
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Where to find American Avocets in Alberta
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