Monday, December 1, 2014

Bird of the Month: American Avocet

The American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana) is an elegant wading bird beautifully patterned in black and white that breeds in North America and winters principally in western North America, Mexico and the Caribbean.  In Panama, it is considered a vagrant... recorded only in few winters.  It has an unmistakable profile, with its long legs and upturned bill.
American Avocet in almost full alternate plumage
During the breeding season, they get a cinnamon color to the neck and head.  As fas as I know, this plumage has been seen only once in Panama, back in 2012 when a group of these birds stayed long enough to molt into it right here (the photo above was taken in Costa del Este, Panama City in May 2012).  However, the basic plumaged birds are quite attractive too.
American Avocet in basic plumage
The American Avocet belongs to the Recurvirostridae family, which consists of three genera and only seven to nine species depending on how many Stilts do you recognize as full species.  Avocets and stilts share the same elegant profile of slim bodies and long legs and are found often together exploiting the same habitat in spite of the different shape of their beaks.
American Avocet and Black-necked Stilt
This season, a pair of these delicate birds is wintering in Panama Viejo (Panama City), and I invite anyone still needing it for its life or country life list to visit them.  For these, and many other reasons is why we chose the American Avocet as our Bird of the Month!
American Avocet
Literature consulted:
1.  Angehr G, Dean R. The Birds of Panama. A Field Guide. Zona Tropical 2010.
2.  Family Recurvirostridae. In: del Hoyo J, Elliot A, Sargatal J, Christie DA & de Juana E (eds.) (2014). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Editions, Barcelona (retrieved from on 01/12/2014. 

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