American Avocets at Bear River

Since one of the main reasons I went to Bear River was to see the American Avocets, and, more specifically, avocet babies, it’s an understatement to say that I was disappointed when I hadn’t seen a single avocet after my first trip around the refuge. I finally spotted a pair fairly close to the road on my way out of the refuge.

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Apparently the flooded fields around the refuge must have provided better feeding than the deep water in the refuge itself.

Although it was a relatively small flock, with no chicks in sight, I spent a lot of time beside the road taking shots.

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The overcast skies really don’t do the Avocets justice.

It takes the kind of sunshine I got on the second day to make the bright orange on the head and the neck pop.

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It’s that orange color that drove me to seek out in vain avocets first. Once I saw a picture of an American Avocet in a Refuge office, I knew that I wouldn’t be happy until I could find a place to photograph them. Unfortunately, the first time I actually saw one, it was in non-breeding colors, and I confused it for a Black-Necked Stilt, which you often find together with avocets.

I’ve always thought that avocets were very mellow birds, unlike the Black-Necked Stilts that seem quite territorial, at least toward other Stilts that are competing for food. So, I was a little surprised when one of the avocets charged this Wilson’s Phalarope, driving it a considerable distance away.

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After twenty minutes of watching avocets quietly probe the water for food, I welcomed a little action.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a chick in sight anywhere. I don’t know if I was too late or too early or why there were so few avocets. I’m just happy that I could photograph the ones I did and that I was able to get some pictures because I didn’t see a single avocet at Malheur or Tule during the rest of my trip.

6 thoughts on “American Avocets at Bear River

  1. These photos are exquisite, Loren. And I just wanted to thank you generally for this superb blog, an oasis of natural beauty and peace in the often jarring world of cyberspace. (Plus, as a longtime admirer of Roethke’s poetry, I love the title you chose.) Keep up the wonderful work!

  2. I remember the first time I saw an American Avocet and I was immediately in love. They are such elegant birds. Your photographs capture the very essence of their inherent beauty. Wonderfully done!

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