Common Name: American Avocet
Scientific Name: Recurvirostra americana
Description: The bill is black, pointed, and curved slightly upwards towards the tip. It is long, surpassing twice the length of the avocet’s small, rounded head. Like many waders, the avocet has long, slender legs and slightly webbed feet. The legs are a pastel grey-blue, giving it its colloquial name, blue shanks. The plumage is black (or dark brown) and white on the back, with white on the underbelly. During the breeding season, the plumage is brassy orange on the head and neck, continuing somewhat down to the breast. After the breeding season, these bright feathers are swapped out for white and grey ones.
Distribution: The avocet’s wintering grounds are mainly coastal. Along the Atlantic Ocean, they are found in North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. There are also wintering grounds along the Gulf of Mexico in Florida, Texas, and Mexico, and along the Pacific Ocean in California and Mexico.
In Las Vegas, the Avocets arrive in the spring and stay until nearly winter, often until November. They nest in colonies of 10 to 12 from April to June. Nesting takes place near water, often alongside black-necked stilts, usually on small islands or mucky shorelines. The avocets nest on the ground in places with little to no surrounding vegetation. They make shallow indentations in the ground for their nest and line it with grass, feathers, pebbles or other small objects. Some avocets do not line their nests at all. They incubate them over a period of 23–25 days. Both parents are involved in the incubation process, taking turns during the day (except at night, where only the female incubates the eggs). 3-4 eggs are laid; chicks are downy and able to walk shortly after hatching. The young are expected to begin flying 4 to 5 weeks after hatching.
Here you can see the lack of color after the breeding season.