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Recurvirostridae

Avocet
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta ©Trevor Hardaker Website

The Recurvirostridae are a family of birds in the wader suborder Charadrii. It contains two distinct groups of birds, the avocets (one genus) and the stilts (two genera).

Avocets and stilts range in length from 30cm to 46cm and in weight from 140g to 435g, males are usually slightly bigger than females. All possess long, thin legs, necks, and bills. The bills of avocets are curved upwards, and are swept from side to side when the bird is feeding in the brackish or saline wetlands they prefer. The bills of stilts, in contrast, are straight. The front toes are webbed, partially in most stilts, and fully in avocets and the Banded Stilt, which swim more. The majority of species' plumage has contrasting areas of black and white, with some species having patches of buff or brown on the head or chest.The sexes are similar.

Their vocalisations are usually yelps of one or two syllables

Avocets and stilts are a cosmopolitan family, being distributed on all the world's continents except Antarctica, and occurring on several oceanic islands. Several species are wide-ranging and a few are locally distributed. One species, the Black Stilt of New Zealand, is critically endangered due to habitat loss, introduced predators, and hybridisation with the Pied Stilt.

All species feed on small aquatic animals such as mollusks, brine shrimp and other crustaceans, larval insects, segmented worms, tadpoles, and small fish.

Both stilts and avocets breed on open ground near water, sometimes on muddy areas that may become inundated, often in loose colonies. They defend nesting territories vigorously with aggressive displays, and mob intruders and possible predators with a great deal of noise. They are monogamous, although the pair bonds are not maintained from season to season. Their eggs are light-coloured with dark markings, weighing 22 to 44 grams. Three to four are laid in simple nests, and both parents share the incubation duties, which last 22 to 28 days. The Banded Stilt may breed only every few years, as it breeds on temporary lakes caused by rains in the deserts of Australia. The chicks are downy and precocial, leaving the nest within a day of hatching; they fledge in 28 to 35 days. In all species except the Banded Stilt, the chicks are cared for by the parents for several months, and they may move them to new areas and defend territories there. Banded Stilts deviate from this by collecting their progeny in massive crèches numbering several hundred chicks.

The IOC recognises just 10 species within this family, which are:

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
White-headed Stilt Himantopus leucocephalus
Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus

White-backed Stilt Himantopus melanurus
Black Stilt Himantopus novaezelandiae

Banded Stilt Cladorhynchus leucocephalus

Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta
American Avocet Recurvirostra americana
Red-necked Avocet Recurvirostra novaehollandiae
Andean Avocet Recurvirostra andina

Family Links

Stilts & Avocets Recurvirostridae

Family Account

The Recurvirostridae is a small family of shorebirds with representatives found around the world. All members are long-legged, long-billed, and all are pied black-and-white in at least one seasonal plumage. The world's four avocets — genus Recurvirostra — have upturned bills; all the world's stilts have straight bills.

Stilts & Avocets Recurvirostridae

IBC Family Account

Full familly account…

Stilts & Avocets Recurvirostridae

HBW Family Account

Annotated species list.

Stilts & Avocets Recurvirostridae

Family Account

Eurasian species

Stilts & Avocets Recurvirostridae

Cornell Family Account

Annotated list of American species

Stilts & Avocets Recurvirostridae

Family Account

The Recurvirostridae are a family of birds in the wader suborder Charadrii. It contains two distinct groups of birds, the avocets (one genus) and the stilts (two genera).

Species Links

American Avocet Recurvirostra americana

Species Account

The American avocet (Recurvirostra americana) is a large wader in the avocet and stilt family, Recurvirostridae.

American Avocet Recurvirostra americana

IUCN Species Status

American Avocet Recurvirostra americana

BirdLife Species Account

American Avocet Recurvirostra americana

Cornell Species Account

With its elegant profile and striking coloration, the American Avocet is unique among North American birds.

American Avocet Recurvirostra americana

HBW Species Account

American Avocet Recurvirostra americana

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Andean Avocet Recurvirostra andina

BirdLife Species Account

Andean Avocet Recurvirostra andina

Species Account

The Andean avocet (Recurvirostra andina) is a large wader in the avocet and stilt bird family, Recurvirostridae. It is resident in the Andes, breeding above 3500 m in northwestern Argentina, western Bolivia, northern Chile and southern Peru.

Andean Avocet Recurvirostra andina

Cornell Species Account

Andean Avocet Recurvirostra andina

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Recurvirostra andina R. A. Philippi [Krumwiede] and Landbeck, 1861, Laguna Parinacocha, Ayacucho, Peru. Monotypic.

Andean Avocet Recurvirostra andina

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Banded Stilt Cladorhynchus leucocephalus

BirdLife Species Account

Full species account…

Banded Stilt Cladorhynchus leucocephalus

Species Account

The banded stilt (Cladorhynchus leucocephalus) is a nomadic stilt endemic to Australia. It belongs to the monotypic genus Cladorhynchus.

Banded Stilt Cladorhynchus leucocephalus

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Recurvirostra leucocephala Vieillot, 1816, Victoria, Australia. Monotypic.

Banded Stilt Cladorhynchus leucocephalus

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Black Stilt Himantopus novaezelandiae

Species Account

The black stilt or kakī (Māori), Himantopus novaezelandiae, is found only in New Zealand, and is the world's rarest wading bird: less than 100 adults survive in the wild. Adult kakī have distinctive black plumage, very long red legs, and a long thin black bill. Black stilts currently breed only in the Mackenzie Basin in the South Island, and are threatened by introduced feral cats and ferrets, as well as habitat degradation from hydroelectric dams, agriculture, and invasive weeds.

Black Stilt Himantopus novaezelandiae

BirdLife Species Account

Black Stilt Himantopus novaezelandiae

IUCN Species Status

Black Stilt Himantopus novaezelandiae

Species Account

Once the common stilt of New Zealand, the black stilt is now critically endangered with a breeding population confined to the Mackenzie Basin of South Canterbury and North Otago. Adults are distinctive in having entirely black plumage, long red legs and a thin black bill, but juveniles and subadults can easily be overlooked amongst pied stilts, while hybrids add to the plumage confusion.

Black Stilt Himantopus novaezelandiae

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Himantopus novæ-zelandiæ Gould, 1841, Port Nicholson, North Island, New Zealand. Monotypic.

Black Stilt Himantopus novaezelandiae

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus

Species Account

The black-necked stilt (Himantopus mexicanus) is a locally abundant shorebird of American wetlands and coastlines. It is found from the coastal areas of California through much of the interior western United States and along the Gulf of Mexico as far east as Florida, then south through Central America and the Caribbean to northwest Brazil southwest Peru, east Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands.

Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus

BirdLife Species Account

Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus

Cornell Species Account

Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus

HBW Species Account

HBW species account...

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus

Species Account

The black-winged stilt, common stilt, or pied stilt (Himantopus himantopus) is a widely distributed very long-legged wader in the avocet and stilt family (Recurvirostridae).

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus

IUCN Species Status

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus

BirdLife Species Account

BirdLife species profile...

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus

Species Account

The Black-winged Stilt is a large black and white wader with long orange-red legs and a straight black bill. It has black on the back of the neck, a white collar and a red iris. Both sexes are similar, and the plumage does not change during the year.

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta

Species Account

The pied avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta) is a large black and white wader in the avocet and stilt family, Recurvirostridae. They breed in temperate Europe and western and Central Asia. It is a migratory species and most winter in Africa or southern Asia. Some remain to winter in the mildest parts of their range, for example in southern Spain and southern England. The pied avocet is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.

Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta

BirdLife Species Account

Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta

IUCN Species Status

Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta

RSPB Species Account

A distinctively-patterned black and white wader with a long up-curved beak. It is the emblem of the RSPB and symbolises the bird protection movement in the UK more than any other species.

Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Red-necked Avocet Recurvirostra novaehollandiae

BirdLife Species Account

Red-necked Avocet Recurvirostra novaehollandiae

Species Account

The red-necked avocet (Recurvirostra novaehollandiae) also known as the Australian avocet, cobbler, cobbler's awl, and painted lady, is a wader of the family Recurvirostridae that is endemic to Australia and is fairly common and widespread throughout, except for the north and north east coastal areas of the country.

Red-necked Avocet Recurvirostra novaehollandiae

HBW Species Account

axonomy: Recurvirostra Novæ-Hollandiæ Vieillot, 1816, Victoria, Australia. Monotypic.

Red-necked Avocet Recurvirostra novaehollandiae

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Red-necked Avocet Recurvirostra novaehollandiae

Species Account

The Red-necked Avocet has a chestnut brown head and neck with a white eye-ring and a long, upturned, black bill. The rest of the body is white, except for two black streaks along the back.

White-backed Stilt Himantopus melanurus

BirdLife Species Account

White-backed Stilt Himantopus melanurus

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

White-headed Stilt Himantopus leucocephalus

Species Account

The white-headed stilt (Himantopus leucocephalus) is a bird in the family Recurvirostridae. It is sometimes considered a subspecies of the black-winged stilt (H. himantopus). This shorebird has been recorded from Malaysia, Japan, the Philippines, Brunei, Christmas Island, Indonesia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand.

White-headed Stilt Himantopus leucocephalus

BirdLife Species Account

White-headed Stilt Himantopus leucocephalus

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 10

Useful Reading

Shorebirds

An Identification Guide to the Waders of the World by Pter Hayman, John Marchant and Tony Prater - Helm 1986

ISBN: 0713635096

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Shorebirds

(WorldLife Library) by Des Thimpson, Ingvar Byrkjedal 2001

ISBN: 1841070750

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Shorebirds of North America - The Photographic guide

by Dennis Paulson Christopher Helm 2005. Price ?24.99p

ISBN: 071367377X

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Waders of Europe, Asia & North America

by Stephen Message & Don Taylor published by Christopher Helm 2006 price ?24.99p See Fatbirder Review

ISBN: 071365290X

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Organisations

Australia Wader Study Group

Website

The Australasian Wader Studies Group was formed in 1981 as a special interest group of Birds Australia. The group is an non-government organisation dedicated to studying waders (otherwise known as shorebirds) throughout the East-Asian Australasian Flyway. There are about 330 members, of which 90 are from Asia…

International Wader Study Group

Website

The International Wader Study Group (IWSG) is an association of amateurs and professionals from all parts of the world interested in Charadrii (waders or shorebirds). Membership of the WSG is currently over 650 worldwide. Members can be found in over 50 countries around the world, including all European countries and the Americas, Asia, Africa and Australasia. The interests of the group have diversified from its original focus from ringing and migration-related studies to embrace all aspects of wader biology.

Western Atlantic Shorebird Association

Website

The first research project to be part of WASA is the International Banding Project which is being led by Professor Allan Baker, Canada and Patricia M. González, Argentina. This project is colour-banding Red Knots (Calidris canutus rufa); Sanderlings (Calidris alba) and Ruddy Turnstones (Arenaria interpres) along the Atlantic coast of the Americas in an effort to establish their migratory strategies.

Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network

Website

WHSRN is a voluntary, non-regulatory coalition of over 200 private and public organizations in seven countries working together to study and conserve shorebirds throughout their habitats. Participation in WHSRN provides the site with international recognition as a major host for shorebirds. OUR MISSION: The conservation, restoration, and management of critical shorebird habitats throughout the Americas…

Forums & Mailing Lists

FWS-Shorebirds

Mailing List

Blogs

World Waders News Blog

Blog

A Global Pool For News On Shorebirds/Waders…

Other Links

The New Shorebirds Handbook Project

Blog

This is a blog of The New Shorebirds Handbook Project which aims to bring together the current knowledge on shorebird science, conservation and a little bit more. By following the blog, readers could insight into the progress and important milestones of the project and the recent news on the world of waders and a bit more of us, the authors….

Wader Quest

Website

It is vital to to take action to prevent the Spoon-billed Sandpiper from becoming extinct. Wader Quest is an attempt to raise money and awareness to the plight of, not just these tiny wanderers but of wader species worldwide…

Wader World

Website

Worldwide Wader Watching…