American Avocet Mating Ritual May 2017

Lake Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge May 2017

During May, I traveled to Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge to observe and photograph the mating behavior of the American Avocet. Located in north central Montana, Bowdoin is an isolated refuge consisting of 84,000 acres of prairie grasslands and wetlands. The refuge is a seasonal breeding ground for tens of thousands of American White Pelicans and thousands of ducks, geese, and shorebirds as well as songbirds and raptors. I spent a week at the refuge and found myself almost completely alone to enjoy the overwhelming silence. Bowdoin stirred my soul as the solitude afforded me thoughtful reflection and photography. Please click on the images to view them in full size.

Beautiful and elegant seasonal residents, American Avocets breed and nest in the wetlands of Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge, Montana.

Beautiful and elegant seasonal residents, American Avocets breed and nest in the wetlands of Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge, Montana.

American Avocet Mating Ritual May 2017

a pair of grand and white wading birds with long turned up bills mating

During their breeding ritual, the female avocet lowers her head to the surface of the water to initiate mating. When she lowers her head, the male begins pecking the water as he wades in circles around the female. American Avocet mating behavior is highly ritualistic consisting of courtship and elegant performance as it relates to the initiation and act of mating. As I observed the Avocets mating, their rituals became evident and I was able to predict when they were preparing to mate. The female always initiated mating; she flattens her neck, lowers her head to the water surface and remains perfectly motionless.

Prior to mating, the male perches on the back of the female and may stretch and flap his wings, as part of their highly ritualized mating behavior.

Prior to mating, the male perches on the back of the female and may stretch and flap his wings, as part of their highly ritualized mating behavior.

pair of blue legged shore birds crossing their long beaks

The final and most graceful aspect of the ritual occurs the moment that mating is complete as the pair join together with crossed bills in an apparent commitment affirmation.

mating pair of avocets

A closeup of the handsome American Avocet at Lake Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge, Montana.

A closeup of the handsome American Avocet at Lake Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge, Montana.

a fiery orange sunset at lake bowdoin in north central Montana

Sunset at Lake Bowdoin, Montana, May 2017.

This entry was posted in american avocet, avian, Birds, Montana, Nature, waterfowl and tagged , , , .

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