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.


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.


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.


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.


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.