American avocet (Recurvirostra americana)—Mildred Glueck/Root Resources

Any of several large shorebirds (genus Recurvirostra) with boldly contrasting plumage, long bluish legs, and a long black bill upturned at the tip. Avocets inhabit fresh and salt marshes that have areas of open shallow water and mudflats, and feed by sweeping the partly open bill in the shallows. They often wade together to corral minnows and crustaceans. Four avocet species are found in temperate and tropical regions worldwide. The American avocet is about 18 in. (45 cm) long, including the bill.

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