American Avocet at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

I knew when I heard two years ago that the Great Salt Lake is one of the primary breeding areas of avocets that I would have to go there to see them . And see them, I did. They were throughout the refuge, from wetlands to dry lands.

Of course, I expected to see them wading in the wetlands because that’s where I have always seen them at Sacramento and Malheur, In fact, I tend to think of them as “shorebirds” because I’ve always seen them wading

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while sweeping up food with their long, curved bills.

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I didn’t drive two states to merely see them wading in water. I actually came to observe them during breeding season and hopefully to get some shots of them with chicks.

I was a little surprised to see Avocets strutting across what appeared to be sand dunes,

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which also turned out to be a nesting area. In fact, a barren area just before the auto tour had been taped off because it was an Avocet nesting area. Their nests turned out to be little more than hollows in the sand lined with small sticks and brush.

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The greatest surprise, though, was learning that Avocets used the same ploys that Killdeer use

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to lead predators away from their nesting area. This one must have spent ten minutes trying to tempt me to follow it away by dragging it’s wings on the ground and fluttering in the dirt. I’m not sure, but it seemed that even females who didn’t have a nest were intent on leading me away from an area where several Avocets could be seen sitting on nests.

Unfortunately, I turned out to be too early to get pictures of Avocet chicks; locals weren’t sure whether the egg laying was late because the weather had been cold or if it was just too early to see chicks. I’ll have to find out before returning next year.

What do you think?