American Avocet with Two Different Backgrounds

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American Avocet with water in the backgroundAmerican Avocet with water in the background – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 250, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Last week while I was at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge I stopped to photograph some Short-billed Dowitchers on the south side of the auto tour route and noticed an American Avocet walking into view and since she was closer to me than the dowitchers I decided to aim my lens at her. The avocet was walking in an open area of water and I knew I would get photos that had plain blue in the background. The avocet is in her breeding colors and the warm peachy tones of her head and neck plumage stood out well from the soft blue of the water.

American Avocet with reflections of rushes in the backgroundAmerican Avocet with reflections of rushes in the background – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 250, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

As I photographed the avocet I moved slowly forward in my Jeep because I could tell that the avocet was going to walk in front of a stand of rushes and that the water would reflect the colors of the vegetation behind the bird. I wanted to capture this avocet with two different backgrounds and when she walked into the area with the reflections of rushes on the water I was in position, engine off and prepared.

Even though this background is busier looking than the image with the plain blue water because of the reflections of the background vegetation the avocet still stands out well.

I’m happy with both images of this female American Avocet but I think I prefer the second image more because the reflections of the water add a sense of depth and more visual interest that I find lacking in the first photo. That is just my own personal preference of these two photos though and other people might find the clean blue background more appealing.

Life is good.


P.S., I can tell this is a female American Avocet because of the curvature of her bill, the bills of the males do not have this much of a curve.


  1. Bob mcpherson May 10, 2017 at 5:45 am

    Gorgeous photos, Mia.

  2. Elephants Child May 7, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    I am learning. As I scanned through the photos I knew she was a female. Thank you and Ron for educating me.
    Both images are lovely, but I can more easily see the detail of the plumage and colouration in the first.

  3. Patty Chadwick May 7, 2017 at 9:49 am

    Two beautiful images of an amazingly graceful-looking bird…like the water in each, especially the second. The first is my favorite-there is something so serene and soothing about it….I needed that feeling. Thanks…

  4. Liz Cormack May 7, 2017 at 6:15 am

    Love both photos but leaning towards the “blue”. I didn’t know that about the curvature of the bill on females.

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