NATURE NOTES: Metal Detectors of the Shore: American Avocets

A flock of American Avocets is seen feeding near the shoreline along Matagorda Peninsula at Matagorda Beach.

The Gulf Coast Bird Observatory continues to survey for non-breeding shorebirds along the Upper Texas Coast. We monitor Matagorda Beach, Bryan Beach, Quintana Beach, Follet’s Island and Surfside Beach. Our target species are piping plover, snowy plover, red knot, black skimmer, and American oystercatcher. Along with these, we often come across other bird species as well. One peculiar one is the American avocet.

American avocets are large shorebirds found year-round along the Texas Coast. They have white and black upper parts, a white belly, long blue-gray legs and a gray head and neck which turn cinnamon during the breeding season. Along with these features, their long black bill make them stand out from the other shorebirds.

Taylor Bennett, a coastal biologist for the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, is a graduate of Old Dominion University with a bachelor’s of science degree in biology specializing in marine science. Learn more about the observatory at

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