I am starting a series of posts where I introduce little known birds we can relate. These would be mostly Neotropical birds that have a North American counterpart most are familiar with. Today I introduce the cool Andean Avocet.

The Andean Avocet is not a rare bird, but not a lot of folks have seen it. This is partly because it leaves at such high elevations (11,811 – 15,090 feet above sea level) along the high Andes of Peru, Chile, Bolivia, and Argentina. It favors shallow alkaline lakes where its striking black and white plumage sticks up in the bluish water of high Andean bodies of water.

Till Niermann 800px-Recurvirostra_andina ready

Andean Avocet. Photo: Till Nierman

There are only two avocets in the new world, the American Avocet and the Andean Avocet, and both belong to the genus Recurvirostra. At some point in evolutionary times one Avocet colonized the high Andes and the other North America. Both evolved different plumages, but maintained a similar morphology.

American Avocet

American Avocet in breeding plumage. Photo: Dan Dzurisin

American Avocet and Andean Avocet forage in a rather similar fashion. They often sweep the head from side to side, with upturned tip of bill barely submerged in shallow water, finding food by touch. They also finds food visually, picking items from surface of water or mud, or plunging head into water; sometimes snatches flying insects as they pass.  The Andean Avocet breeds in small groups in loose colonies scattered along the shallow saline lagoons at high elevation.

Sergey Pisarevskiy ready

Andean Avocet, Photo: Sergey Pisarevskiy

The courtship behaviour of this species is unknown, but they probably use the same displays as the American Avocet, with various postures, bowing, crouching and dance with open wings.

The Andean Avocet forages alongside the likes James’ and Puna Flamingos, Puna Plover, Golden-spotted Ground-Dove and more I will be introducing in forthcoming posts.

Written by Alfredo Begazo
Alfredo lives in Florida but grew up alongside Peruvian Meadowlarks and Marvelous Spatuletails in Peru. Trained as Wildlife Biologist, he divides his time between South Florida and the tropics where he spends a fair amount of time. Alfredo founded Surbound , a blog on mission to connect the birds, wildlife, people, and magnificent landscapes in the Americas.