American Avocet.Photo courtesy of John Bedell

With a buff-colored neck (at breeding time), long legs, a graceful upward sweep to its bill, and a bundle of eccentricities, the avocet is all Hollywood. These birds can change the pitch of their calls to make it seem like they’re moving a lot faster than they really are. When faced with a predator, some avocets extend their wings and teeter towards the bad guy like they’re tightrope walking. All those zany tricks may not save the avocet, however. It wades the shallows of marshy wetlands that are fast disappearing before the great bulldozer of human development.