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9

Red-necked Avocet

(Recurvirostra novaehollandiae)
Alternate name(s): "Australian Avocet", "Cobbler", "Trumpeter", "Painted Lady"
Aboriginal name(s): "ngakan-ngakan" [tjapwurrung]; "yadjinkorong" (WA)

Size: 40-48 cm; wing span ca. 75 cm
Weight: 270-390 g

Similar
species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Red-necked Avocet at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

ADULT

MALE

Lateral view of a male(?) Red-necked Avocet; note the rather long, only slightly upcurved bill
[Goran Lake, near Gunnedah, NSW, September 2011]

Lateral view of a male(?) Red-necked Avocet sifting through water
[Goran Lake, near Gunnedah, NSW, September 2011]

Direct lateral comparison of a male Red-necked Avocet, front, and a Pied Stilt
[Burren Junction Bore Bath, NSW, November 2017]

Near-dorsal view of a male Red-necked Avocet
[Goran Lake, near Gunnedah, NSW, September 2011]

Lateral/ventral view of three Red-necked Avocets in flight, with a male in the middle and two females above and below
[Wee Waa, NSW, September 2012]


Comparison of the bills of Red-necked Avocets: male above, female below - note that the male's bill is shorter and less curved
(photos courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Lake Clarendon, QLD, July 2018]

FEMALE

Near-frontal view of a female(?) Red-necked Avocet; note the prominently upcurved bill
[Goran Lake, near Gunnedah, NSW, February 2012]

Near-lateral view of a female(?) Red-necked Avocet
[Goran Lake, near Gunnedah, NSW, September 2011]

Lateral view of a female Red-necked Avocet
[Goran Lake, near Gunnedah, NSW, February 2012]

Lateral view of a female Red-necked Avocet, left, with an immature bird, probably also a female, on the right
(photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Lake Clarendon, QLD, July 2018]

Near-lateral/ventral view of a female Red-necked Avocet in flight
[Wee Waa, NSW, September 2012]

PAIR

Lateral view of a pair of Red-necked Avocets in flight, female at the top
[Burren Junction Bore Bath, NSW, December 2014]

Sex unknown

Frontal view of a Red-necked Avocet (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Lake Clarendon, QLD, July 2018]

Near-frontal view of a Red-necked Avocet (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Lake Clarendon, QLD, July 2018]

Near-dorsal view of 7 Red-necked Avocets that have just woken up from resting in shallow water
[Goran Lake, near Gunnedah, NSW, October 2011]

Red-necked Avocets resting on a sand bank in a dam, together with other aquatic species
[Burren Junction Bore Bath, NSW, December 2013]

Near-dorsal view of two Red-necked Avocets (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Lake Clarendon, QLD, July 2018]

Dorsal view of a Red-necked Avocet (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Lake Clarendon, QLD, July 2018]

Frontal/ventral view of Red-necked Avocets in flight
[Burren Junction Bore Bath, , NSW, May 2017]

Lateral view of a small flock of Red-necked Avocets in flight
[Burren Junction Bore Bath, NSW, December 2014]

Lateral view of a small mob of Red-necked Avocets in low flight
[Goran Lake, near Gunnedah, NSW, August 2011]

Small flock of Red-necked Avocets at take-off... (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Goran Lake, near Gunnedah, NSW, August 2012]

... and landing again after turning a full circle (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Goran Lake, near Gunnedah, NSW, August 2012]

Mixed flock of Red-necked Avocets and Banded Stilts (photo courtesy of C. Pears)
[Rottnest Island, WA, April 2018]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Lateral view of a juvenile Red-necked Avocet (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Lake Gilles, SA, October 2022]

Lateral view of a juvenile Red-necked Avocet
[Goran Lake, near Gunnedah, NSW, September 2011]

Lateral view of an adult, right, with a juvenile Red-necked Avocet
[Goran Lake, near Gunnedah, NSW, September 2011]

Lateral view of a juvenile Red-necked Avocet, together with an adult foraging with its head under water
[Goran Lake, near Gunnedah, NSW, September 2011]

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Communal Mobility: Dispersive Elementary unit: Flock

Red-necked Avocets are sociable birds; they do almost everything in large numbers.

Lateral view of Red-necked Avocets feeding as a pack
[Wee Waa, NSW, September 2012]

Lateral/ventral view of a flock of Red-necked Avocets mobbing a Whistling Kite in the air
[Goran Lake, near Gunnedah, NSW, February 2012]

Red-necked Avocets resting in a tight pack in shallow water
[Goran Lake, near Gunnedah, NSW, March 2012]

Flock of Red-necked Avocets (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Mount Frankland NP, WA, October 2018]

Near-lateral view of a small mob of Red-necked Avocets in flight
[Goran Lake, near Gunnedah, NSW, February 2012]

Red-necked Avocets do not like to be approached when close to shore and will retreat into deeper water
[Goran Lake, near Gunnedah, NSW, August 2011]

Food, Diet

Red-necked Avocets feed on small animals they sweep up from just under the mud surface of shallow waters.

This photo illustrates Red-necked Avocets' hunting technique; they sweep their bills sideways, often vigorously, dredging through mud in pursuit of small animals just under the surface
[Goran Lake, near Gunnedah, NSW, August 2011]

Red-necked Avocets foraging in shallow water; note the typical 'tail up' stance
[Burren Junction Bore Bath, NSW, September 2019]

Here one can see how Red-necked Avocets sift water for prey; the upper mandible is held steady while the lower mandible is moved up and down
[Goran Lake, near Gunnedah, NSW, September 2011]

Red-necked Avocets can feed at various depths, even with the head completely under water
[Goran Lake, near Gunnedah, NSW, September 2011]

Three Red-necked Avocets feeding tail up, deep below the water surface
[Goran Lake, near Gunnedah, NSW, August 2012]

Red-necked Avocets feeding in shallow water, with their heads under water (photo courtesy of C. Hayne) down
[Near Moree, NSW, October 2012]

3 Red-necked Avocets foraging together (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Lake Clarendon, QLD, July 2018]

Mob of Red-necked Avocets foraging as a collective
[Goran Lake, near Gunnedah, NSW, December 2023]

Call(s)/Song

For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

rnavoct_20170508_2.mp3 (NW NSW) Contact calls (2 birds) © MD
rnavoct_20141206_4.mp3 (NW NSW) Contact calls © MD
rnavoct_20151222_3.m4a (NW NSW) Contact calls (flock) © MD
rnavoct_20151222.m4a (NW NSW) Warning calls (flock) © MD
rnavoct_20151219.mp3 (NW NSW) Alarm calls © MD
rnavoct_20151222_4.m4a (NW NSW) Upset (flock with Pink-e. Duck) © MD
blwstlt_20151222_2.m4a leucocephalus
(NW NSW)
Upset (flock with Black-winged Stilt) © MD
blwstlt_20151222.m4a leucocephalus
(NW NSW)
Upset (flock with Black-winged Stilt) © MD

More Red-necked Avocet sound recordings are available at xeno-canto.org .

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

Would you like to contribute photos or sound recordings to this site?
If interested, please CLICK HERE. Credits to contributors are given HERE.