Tag Archives: American avocet

Spring Shorebird Migration

These shorebird photos were made between April 17th and May 12th, 2015 at Fort Supply Lake, Oklahoma. None of them stay at the lake for long, but stop for a few days to rest and re-fuel before continuing northward to their nesting grounds.

To see these images larger and sharper, click anywhere on one and advance using arrow keys or click on sides. 

The beautiful and graceful American Avocets have been visitors to the lake for the last few years.
The beautiful and graceful American Avocets have been visitors to the lake for the last few years.
This male is presenting his courtship display in preparation for the upcoming nesting season.
This male is presenting his courtship display in preparation for the upcoming nesting season.
Avocets feed by sweeping their bills side to side to catch crustaceans , aquatic insects and seeds.
Avocets feed by sweeping their bills from side to side to catch crustaceans , aquatic insects and seeds.
_IMG5047
In winter, the rust colored head and neck area becomes gray.
Avocets have been known to nest in this area, but this flock moved on, probably farther north.
Avocets have been known to nest in this area, but this flock moved on, probably farther north.
Willets are some of the larger members of the sandpiper family.
Willets are some of the larger members of the sandpiper family.
They look similar to the greater  yellowlegs, but have gray legs and their bill is thicker.
They look similar to the greater yellowlegs, but have gray legs and their bill is thicker.

_IMG4945

They can be identified in flight by the black and white wing markings which the yellowlegs lack.
They can be identified in flight by the black and white wing markings which the yellowlegs lack.
Smaller than the willet, the Wilson's phalarope is another member of the sandpiper family.
Smaller than the willet, the Wilson’s phalarope is another member of the sandpiper family.
Believe it or not, this is a female and the bird in the previous photo is a male.
In most bird species the male is the more colorful, however the Wilson’s phalarope is an exception. The more colorful and boldly patterned bird is the female.
After laying eggs, the female Wilson's phalarope deserts her mate and leaves him to care for the young while she seeks another mate and lays more eggs.
After laying eggs, the female Wilson’s phalarope deserts her mate and leaves him to care for the young while she seeks another mate and lays more eggs.
While feeding, they spin in circles to create a whirlpool in the water which draws food to the surface.
While feeding, they spin in circles to create a whirlpool in the water which draws food to the surface.

_IMG6082

The Baird's sandpiper travels an amazing distance during migration. They winter in South America and nest in the high-arctic. Many individuals make the 9,300 mile trip in as little as little as five weeks.
The Baird’s sandpiper travels an amazing distance during migration. They winter in South America and nest in the high-arctic. Many individuals make the 9,300 mile trip in as little as little as five weeks.

Shorebirds

These images were all made in April and May of 2014 at Fort Supply Lake, Oklahoma with the exception of the snowy plover which was made on the salt flats of the Cimarron River.
To see photos larger and sharper, click anywhere in a photo and use arrows to move through them.
This common shorebird is a member of the plover family.
The killdeer is a commonly seen member of the plover family. Although classified as a shorebird it is often seen far from water.
The name comes from the call of "kill-deer" or "kill-dee". They are known from their hurt-wing display which is used to lure intruders away from their nests.
The name comes from the call of “kill-deer” or “kill-dee”. They are known for their hurt-wing display which is used to lure intruders away from their nests.
The American avocet is a large migratory shorebird which is seldom seen far from water.
The American avocet is a large migratory shorebird which is seldom seen far from water.
They don’t mind wading into deeper water because their webbed feet enable them to swim and even dive.
American avocets are graceful flyers.
Avocets are graceful flyers.

_IMG5644

They often nap standing up  with their long upturned bill tucked beneath a wing.
They often nap standing up with their long upturned bill tucked beneath a wing.
They feed by dipping their beaks and sometimes their heads into water to catch their food which consists of small invertebrates.
They feed by dipping their beaks and sometimes their heads into water to catch their food which consists of small invertebrates.
Avocets migrate in small flocks such as this one consisting of about 24 birds, which was photographed at Ft. Supply Lake.
Avocets migrate in small flocks such as this one consisting of about 24 birds.
The spotted sandpiper is a member of the very large sandpiper family of shorebirds. It is one of the best known American shorebirds and has the distinctive habit of constantly bobbing its tail.
The spotted sandpiper is a small member of the very large sandpiper family of shorebirds. It is one of the best known American shorebirds and has the distinctive habit of constantly bobbing its tail.
The Baird's sandpiper is truly a world traveler. They winter in South America and nest in northern Alaska and the Canadian Arctic. It is thought that they may fly up to 4,000 miles non-stop during migration.
The Baird’s sandpiper is truly a world traveler. They winter in South America and nest in northern Alaska and the Canadian Arctic. It is thought that they may fly up to 4,000 miles non-stop during migration.
The crow-sized marbled godwit is one of the larger members of the sandpiper family.
The crow-sized marbled godwit is one of the larger members of the sandpiper family.
Snowy plovers are small migrants to this area and survive on large flat areas of sand or salt with little vegetation where few other birds can exist.
Snowy plovers are small migrants to this area and survive on large flat areas of sand or salt with little vegetation where few other birds can exist.
This photo was made on the salt flats of the Cimarron River where the birds and their nests are almost invisible against the white background of salt.
This photo was made on the salt flats of the Cimarron River where the birds and their nests are almost invisible against the white background of salt.

Spring And Summer Visitors

Some birds visit northwestern Oklahoma for only a short time in spring and fall and some raise their young here but fly south for the winter.

Ospreys visit lakes and rivers in Oklahoma as they travel from their winter homes in south Texas, Central and South America to their summer homes farther north where they nest.
Ospreys visit lakes and rivers in Oklahoma as they travel from their winter homes in south Texas, Central and South America to their summer homes farther north where they nest.
An osprey flies over Ft. Supply Lake looking for fish on April, 29th, 2013.
An osprey flies over Ft. Supply Lake looking for fish on April 29th, 2013.
After spotting a fish, they dive into the water, talons first, and grab the fish.
After spotting a fish, they dive into the water, talons first, and grab the fish.
The osprey's feet are equipped with sharp projections which provide a secure grip on the fish which they always carry with the head facing forward.
The osprey’s feet are equipped with sharp projections which provide a secure grip on the fish which they always carry with the head facing forward.
The "fish hawk" as they are also called are always found near water, except when moving from place to place, because fish comprise their entire diet.
The “fish hawk” as they are also called are always found near water, except when moving from place to place, because fish comprise their entire diet.
A female Wilson's phalarope, a member of the sandpiper family, stops to feed at Ft. Supply  Lake as it migrates northward to its breeding grounds.
A female Wilson’s phalarope, a member of the sandpiper family, stops to feed at Ft. Supply Lake as it migrates northward to its breeding grounds.
Wilson's phalarope photos made May 6th, 21013.
Wilson’s phalarope photos made May 6th, 2013.
The American avocet is a much larger shorebird than the Wilson's phalarope.
The American avocet is a much larger shorebird than the Wilson’s phalarope.
American avocets are summer residents of and nest in western Oklahoma, but as far as I know, don't nest at Ft. Supply Lake where these photos were made.
American avocets are summer residents of and nest in western Oklahoma, but as far as I know, don’t nest at Ft. Supply Lake where these photos were made.
They are easily identified by their long, upturned bill and their striking black and white  markings and rust-colored neck and head. In winter, the adult birds rust colored areas turn gray.
They are easily identified by their long, upturned bill, striking black and white markings, and rust-colored neck and head. In winter, the adult bird’s rust colored areas turn gray.
They are very graceful birds and this one seems to be performing a ballet.
They are very graceful birds and this one seems to be performing a ballet.

_IGP5824

The beautiful little blue heron is a migrant or summer resident in much of Oklahoma.
The beautiful little blue heron is a migrant or summer resident in much of Oklahoma. This one was photographed on May 13th, 2013 at Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge.
The little blue heron is much smaller than the more common great blue heron and is more blue.
The little blue heron is much smaller than the more common great blue heron and is more blue.
The black-necked stilt is not often seen at Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge where this one was photographed on May 13, 2013.
The black-necked stilt is not often seen at Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge where this one was photographed on May 13th, 2013.
The black-necked stilt is obviously named for its very long legs. Only the flamingo has longer legs in proportion to its body.
The black-necked stilt is obviously named for its very long legs. Only the flamingo has longer legs in proportion to its body.