American Avocets

The first time I saw a picture of an American Avocet was in Tri-Cities on a brochure showing birds that could be seen in the refuge at different times of the year.  Right then I resolved that I would find one to photograph.  It was a few years before I found one, though, despite exploring all the bird refuges on the Columbia River.  Strangely enough, the earliest picture I could find in my blog was taken in the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge, near Santa Rosa in March of 2012, and it was in its non-breeding plumage. The earliest I remember seeing one in full breeding colors was at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. 

Later I learned that the best place to find them breeding was at Bear River. I finally managed to get a shot of an Avocet chick there on July 12, 2016.  I was hoping to relive that moment on our recent visit, but we saw very few Avocets there this time and not a single nest, though when we were confronted by this Avocet as we started the road tour, I suspected that there might be a nest nearby. 

American Avocet

However, I dismissed that idea when the Avocet suddenly decided to take a nap.

Sleeping Avocet

The area where we’ve seen nests before was drained this year and cows were roaming the fields, apparently an attempt to rid the area of some kind of obnoxious weed.

So, we had to settle for shots of solitary Avocets foraging in the shallow water on other parts of the refuge,

Avocet Wading in Shallow Water

but Avocets are such elegant birds that it’s always a treat to see them, chicks or not.

Avocet Feeding

We did see a few pairs of Avocets, though. This pair foraged so closely together that I wondered if they could be courting each other and nesting.

A Pair of American Avocets Feeding

If so, they would be late because a little research revealed they generally nest from April to early July.  

In a normal year, that’s when Leslie and I would be headed to Colorado, but this was far from a normal year in so many ways.  Hopefully, we can get on track again next year.  

Back to Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

We just returned from our long-awaited trip to visit the Websters in Broomfield, CO, and Paul in Santa Rosa.  After a very long day of travel on our way to Colorado, we stayed overnight in Ogden, Utah, and squeezed in a visit to the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge early the next morning before heading out to Broomfield.   We’ve never visited Bear River this time of year, so we didn’t know what to expect.  We were pleased to see the same old gang of Pelicans at the beginning of the drive-through tour, just where they have been on all our previous trips.           

Small Flock of White Pelicans

After getting this close-up,

Pelican Closeup

 we probably didn’t need to bother to take another shot of Pelicans because we couldn’t get a better shot, but we took a lot more as it turned out.  It took me quite a while to narrow down to just five shots.  

Since we rarely see White Pelicans west of the Cascades, it was delightful to see them throughout the Bear River refuge. Small flocks would occasionally fly overhead,

White Pelicans in flight

but, more often than not, we would just see small groups floating quietly on the ponds.

Pelicans Floating on the pond

Technically, this last shot isn’t very good because it’s so blurry that even Photoshop and Topaz can’t render it sharply, but I liked it because it revealed just how big a pelican’s mouth is.  

What a Big Mouth

Though we don’t go to Bear River specifically to see White Pelicans (I, at least, go to see the American Avocets), seeing the pelicans enhances the experience.  

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