Foraging American Avocets in Breeding Plumage

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Foraging male American Avocet at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Box Elder County, UtahForaging male American Avocet at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/4000, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Eight days ago it was sunny and bright and I was out having fun photographing a pair of foraging American Avocets in breeding plumage at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in northern Utah. I think American Avocets are among the most elegant and graceful looking shorebirds in North America and I always enjoy myself when I see and photograph them, especially when they are in breeding plumage which is more colorful than their nonbreeding plumage.

Having a cooperative pair of American Avocets foraging in front of me is a always a thrill.

Foraging American Avocet in Breeding plumage, Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Box Elder County, UtahForaging American Avocet in Breeding plumage – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/4000, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

This pair of American Avocets seemed only to be interested in looking for prey and ignored the “mobile blind” while they moved through the shallow water of an ephemeral pond on the south side of the auto tour route of the refuge.

American Avocet male striding through shallow water, Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Box Elder County, UtahAmerican Avocet male striding through shallow water – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/5000, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I had hoped to see some courtship behavior but that wasn’t to be, these shorebirds were hungry. We are lucky to have thousands upon thousands of these long-legged avocets breed at Bear River MBR and before too long there will be chicks foraging with the adults. I haven’t noticed any avocets on nests yet but I’m sure it won’t be long before they are incubating if they aren’t already. I’ve learned that you have to go slow to see them on their nests because even in breeding plumage they can be hard to see with grasses, rushes and other vegetation near their nests. If you don’t go slow you might miss seeing them.

American Avocet female defecating, Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Box Elder County, UtahAmerican Avocet female defecating – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/4000, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

It wasn’t until I got home and was going through my avocet images that I saw that I had captured this female avocet defecating, that little white strand to the left of her legs is poop in mid air. I get a laugh out of catching birds pooping, perhaps I am a little odd.

Male American Avocet at the edge of a pond, Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Box Elder County, UtahMale American Avocet at the edge of a pond – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/3200, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I also chuckle when I see muddy feet on the birds at the refuge, don’t ask me why because I don’t know why it causes me to laugh but it might have something to do with being a free spirited child who loved the outdoors and being barefoot as often as possible which meant sometimes warm mud squished between my toes. The avocet here looks quite elegant until you see that raised muddy foot. It doesn’t take much to amuse me at times.

Life is good.

Mia

It is raining and chilly here this morning so I won’t be going out into the field today and believe it or not there is a winter weather advisory here for the Uinta and Wasatch mountains until 4 pm today,  two days ago it was 87°F here in the valley, we do have crazy weather here at times. Thankfully the birds in the valleys won’t have to deal with snow. 

WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 4 PM MDT THIS
AFTERNOON…

* WHAT…Additional snow accumulations of 3 to 5 inches with
locally higher amounts possible.

* WHERE…The Wasatch and western Uinta Mountains.

* WHEN…Until 4 PM MDT this afternoon.

8 Comments

  1. Pepe Forte May 11, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    Great series of pics Mia. What a fascinating and beautiful bird. Thanks.

  2. Elephants Child April 30, 2018 at 2:04 pm

    I still go barefoot when I can. And sometimes when I shouldn’t.
    Love those graceful birds. And hope the predicted ‘weather’ falls short.

  3. Jane Chesebrough April 30, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    oh, so beautiful, love the subtle colour and ripples in the water the direction the bird is moving toward..

  4. Mia McPherson April 30, 2018 at 10:24 am

    I was wrong folks, it is snowing in the valley right now! The birds do have to deal with it.

  5. Bob mcpherson April 30, 2018 at 8:29 am

    Nice photos Mia.

  6. Brrdoo April 30, 2018 at 8:13 am

    Had a Snowy Owl on the edge of the Ottawa River here in Ottawa, Ontario, a few days ago, and warnings of snow flurries yesterday. Warming up today. Finally.

  7. Liz Cormack April 30, 2018 at 7:55 am

    These American Avocets are definitely beautiful birds. We had a snow flurry yesterday morning here in Niagara Falls. It’s the end of April, for Pete’s sake! Enough! Bird migration is at least 2 weeks behind if not more in some cases. Snowy Owls are even still hanging around.

  8. Patty Chadwick April 30, 2018 at 7:30 am

    You are definitely weird!!! Guess I was, too…spent much of my childhood(and quite a bit of adulthood) barefooted…loved walking barefoot in morning dew-laden grass, warm mud and cowpies….both gooey and crispy….these are beautiful images of beautiful birds…make me think of morning warmth and soft morning light…love them!!!

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