Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Avocet, any bird of the genus Recurvirostra, which contains six species, distributed throughout the world. The Avocets, distinguished by their long, slender, up-curved bill, are now classed with the Waders, but were formerly placed with the Swimming Birds, on account of their feet, which are completely webbed, though they never swim unless compelled to do so. The Common Avocet (Recurvirostra avocetta) is about eighteen inches long, of which the bill is about one-sixth; top of the head, neck, back, lesser wing-coverts, and primaries black, rest of plumage white, legs and toes pale blue. It is common in Holland, ranges over Europe, and occurs as far south as the Cape of Good Hope. It was formerly a frequent visitor to the eastern counties, and frequently remained to breed, but is now of very rare occurrence. Sir T. Browne, who includes it in his Birds of Norfolk, in commenting on the strangely shaped bill of the bird, says that "it is not easy to conceive how it can "feed." But the thin flexible bill is admirably adapted for scooping and probing the soft mud, while the mandibles act as strainers and retain the prey. The bird was locally known as the Barker and Yelper, from its cry, and as the Shoeing-horn, Scooper, and Cobbler's Awl Duck, from the shape of its bill. The American species (R. americana), which ranges over the whole continent, has the bill less recurved than the European species, and the coloration of the head is chestnut.