American Avocet. Uncommon Visitor to Devil’s Lake.

American Avocet. Uncommon Visitor to Devil’s Lake.

Yesterday, July 30th, a pair of American Avocets made a rare (If ever!) visit Devil’s Lake State Park. Seen occasionally along the shores of Lake Michigan and in the shallows of Horicon Marsh, these western shorebirds are a rare sight elsewhere in our part of the country.  Sweet!

The American avocet is a unique and colorful bird whose range covers most of western america, rarely slipping east of the Mississippi river. You’ll generally find them feeding on insects in the mudflats and shallows along larger bodies of water. One unique aspect of the avocet is in its response to predators. The bird can create a series of calls that gradually changes pitch, simulating the Doppler effect and making it seem as if it’s approaching much faster than it actually is. They are also known to aggressively protect their nests, even attacking hawks and other larger birds  that they see as a threat.

Park Naturalist, Sue Johansen, discovered the pair of American Avocets near Devil’s Lake’s busy north shore boat landing yesterday morning.  The birds were still feeding on along the shoreline as the sun began to set last night.  Given how busy this part of the park is, and not to mention that they are in an off-leash pet area, it’s impossible to guess how long these guys will hang around. If you want to see them, I’d suggest that you do it quickly. You may want to call the park naturalist before you leave to see if she knows if they are still around before you come.

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