Bird Families

Australian shilokak


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Avocents settle on the seashore because they feed mainly on small crustaceans, larvae of insects living in the water, molluscs, worms and seeds of aquatic plants. Therefore, the nesting colonies of these birds are located in places with a sufficient amount of food, because the chicks of the shilokbeak are able to find food on their own from the first day of life. Collecting food, birds most often wander slowly through shallow water, without taking their legs out of the water, and move their beak from side to side, like a scythe. In deeper places, the awls collect food by swimming. Chicks use another method of obtaining food: they simply peck at the prey they see, since their beak is not yet developed.


The Avocet belongs to the Avocet family. All these birds nest on the shores of brackish, salty and fresh water bodies. Nests colonially. The colony of shilokak consists of 6-30 individuals. In some cases, its number can reach hundreds of birds. Ants are found on the shores of the Caspian, Azov, Aral and Black Seas, they also live near the Baltic Sea, in the Mediterranean countries, in Asia Minor, China, Africa, Australia and Tasmania. These are migratory birds. They hibernate in Africa and South Asia, and a separate population of these birds hibernates in the Caspian Sea. In winter, these birds keep in large flocks. Avocents return to nesting sites at the end of March - April. During the mating period, birds often perform group dances. The dancing birds form a circle, they lower their heads down, their beaks are directed to the center of the circle. An outside observer has the impression that the birds are preparing for a fight. Outside the nesting period, they keep alone.

Nesting area

The nesting area is scattered, covering several climatic zones from temperate in the North Atlantic to steppes and deserts in Central Asia, and tropics and subtropics in East and South Africa. In Western and Northern Europe, it breeds on the coastlines from Portugal and Great Britain to southern Sweden and Estonia. In France, it is found both in the north on the shores of the Bay of Biscay and the English Channel, and in the south in the Mediterranean Sea.In Spain, it arranges nests not only on the southern coast, but also on inland salt lakes. In Southern Europe also breeds in Sardinia, Italy, Greece, Hungary and Romania. In Austria, they are found mainly on the shores of the Neusiedler See salt marsh lake. To the east, it settles on the northern coast of the Black Sea, including in the Ukraine near the Sivash Bay and the northern Azov Sea.

On the territory of Russia, the northern border runs along the Don valley, Volgograd, the Bolshoi and Maly Uzen rivers, as well as in Siberia south of the 55th parallel, Tuva, the lower reaches of the Selenga and Torey lakes in Transbaikalia. Possibly also breeds in Saratov region. In Kazakhstan, separate areas of the range south of the lower reaches of the Ilek are noted. In Asia outside of Russia, there are separate nesting sites in the north of the Arabian Peninsula, in Iraq, Iran (Zagros Mountains), Afghanistan, Pakistan (northern Baluchistan), in western India (Kach district) and northern China (Tsaidam Desert and Middle Yellow River Valley) ... In Africa, breeds in the north on the border of Morocco and Tunisia, as well as in the eastern and southern parts of the continent south of the Horn of Africa, but absent in the Sahara and regions of tropical rainforests.


During the nesting period, it prefers to stay on gentle open shores of shallow reservoirs with salty or brackish water - sea muddy bays, shallow lakes, salt marshes, estuaries, seasonal floods in the desert zone and savannah. Selects places where the water level drops significantly in summer, exposing numerous islets, sandbanks and stone ridges. Another characteristic feature of nesting sites is sluggish vegetation caused by the high salt content of the water. Outside the breeding season, it adheres to similar biotopes, as well as ponds, river deltas, lagoons and sandy beaches of the sea coasts.


The nature of migrations largely depends on the area of ​​residence. In Northern and Eastern Europe, as well as in Asia, Avocets are typically migratory birds. In the UK, France, the Netherlands, in warm winters, most birds spend the winter in nesting places. In Heligoland Bay and the Rhine Delta, where large flocks of birds from Sweden, Denmark and Germany accumulate in mid-July for the molt season, only a small part of them remain for the winter. Finally, in Africa and on the shores of the Persian Gulf, Avocets are typically sedentary, or in dry seasons they concentrate along the coasts.

From Northern and Western Europe in autumn, the birds move to the south-west, and some of them stop in bays and estuaries on the sea coasts of France, Portugal and Spain. In addition, many birds hibernate in man-cultivated landscapes, such as artificial ponds where fish are raised. The other part crosses the Mediterranean Sea and winters along the Atlantic coast of Africa. Populations of Central and Southeastern Europe fly south and southeast, reaching the shores of the Mediterranean and Black Seas, as well as North Africa. Some birds from these regions cross the Sahara and stop at the latitude of the Sahel in Sudan and Chad. The directions of migration from Central Asia and Siberia have not been sufficiently studied; it is known about the winter stays of shiloklyak in the Persian Gulf, in the northwest of India and on the coast of the Yellow Sea in China. Autumn migrations begin in July and August, and in October most of the birds already leave the nesting sites.


Most of the Avocents arrive at their nesting sites in late March - April. For nesting, birds prefer flat muddy shores of brackish reservoirs, sandy spits, salt licks and shores of shallow sea bays. Avocents very aggressively defend their territory: with loud cries they drive away strangers and warn of danger. Before mating, the awls perform a complex mating ritual on the water. During the dance, the male cleans the plumage, preeners himself, while the female bends forward and stretches her neck. Then the male slowly approaches the female, he wanders through the water in his direction, until he rests against her tail.The partner spreads its wings over the female and mates with her. After mating, the birds swim side by side for some time. Avocents nest in small colonies. Paired male and female occupy their own area. The nest of the awl is built on bumps or sandy humps. Various plants serve as construction material.

The female lays eggs and incubates them at 23-25 ​​days. Soon after hatching from the eggs, the chicks of the shilokbeak can search for food on their own. With the help of special calling cries and gestures, parents call their chicks to the water. At the age of 35-42 days, the chicks can already fly, however, despite this, they live with their parents for some time.

Breeding sicklebeaks

During the breeding season, the behavior of birds changes dramatically. In March-April, calm and trusting sicklebills become restless and fearful. Possibly, in the second half of March, pairs of birds choose nesting sites. The occupied territory for each pair of birds is located at a distance of at least 1000 meters from another site. The mating games of the sicklebeak are interesting: the male constantly bows to the female, does squats on its legs, shakes its tail, then suddenly soars into the air, vibrating its wings, and makes a loud cry.

Nests are located on the outskirts of pebble or stony shoals, or on narrow rocky spits.

This is just a small hole 1.5-2 cm deep among small flat stones. Sometimes the nest is located between large stones. The sicklebeak also builds a "false" nest, in which the bird sits during mating games. The female lays the first eggs at the end of April, and breeding ends by mid-May. In the clutch, there are 2-4 gray eggs with a faint greenish tinge, sometimes the shell color has a brownish-yellow bloom. Sometimes dark spots are clearly visible on it.

The clutch of eggs is well camouflaged, so the sicklebeak nest is difficult to find. The gray color of the back is in good harmony with the color of the river pebbles. In addition, in case of danger, the birds run away silently at a distance of about 300 meters and do not return to the abandoned nest soon. Female and male hatch eggs, replacing each other. Chicks hatch from May 10. Young sicklebills start on the wing in early August.

Adult birds sometimes change feathers at the end of June, but mainly in August. Molting lasts until autumn, even in winter. Partial molting occurs in early spring, while small feathers on the neck and head are replaced in birds. At the end of summer, young sicklebills change their outfit for adult plumage.


Occasionally, shiloklyuv nest on the coast of the North Sea. Most often birds can be seen in protected areas. The awl beak is immediately recognizable by the shape of its beak. The bird's beak is long, flexible, and curved upward, has a black color. Four-toed legs. The color of the legs of this bird is bluish. The top of the head and nape are black or dark brown, the wings are black or dark brown, with large white spots, and the rest of the plumage is white. In search of food, the bird walks with its head down, plunging the tip of its beak into the water, and moves it from side to side.


Latin name:Recurvirostra avosetta
English name:Avocet
Family:Ants (Recurvirostridae)
Body length, cm:42–45
Wingspan, cm:77–80
Body weight, g:230–430
Features:plumage color, beak shape, voice
Number, thousand pairs:26,5–29,5
Conservation status:SPEC 4, SPEC 3, CEE 1, BERNA 2, BONN 2, AEWA
Habitat:Wetland species
Additionally:Russian description of the species

This species is unmistakably recognizable by its thin, upwardly bent beak, contrasting white-black plumage and long bluish-gray paws. There is no sexual dimorphism. Young areas of black plumage are brownish-gray.
Spread... Migratory, nomadic and, in some areas, sedentary species found in Eurasia and Africa. In Europe, it is distributed unevenly, inhabits mainly coastal regions. Winters in the south of its range, up to the Mediterranean basin and Africa. A population of 1,200–1,800 pairs nests in Italy.4,000–7,500 recorded individuals regularly spend the winter here, especially along the Adriatic coast and in Sardinia.

Habitat... Breeds in damp coastal areas near salt water, mainly in muddy and muddy places, surrounded by water, open or with sparse vegetation. In some areas, the shiloklyuv can be seen in fresh inland water bodies.

Biology... Forms colonies, often settles with other waders, gulls and terns. From April to June, it lays 4 light-brown eggs with dark dots, which both parents incubate for 23–25 days. Chicks become winged at the age of about 35–45 days. One clutch per year. The voice is persistent, reminiscent of the sound of a flute. The diet consists of invertebrates. It flies quickly, although the flaps of the wings are slow.

Interesting fact... Avocet feeds in shallow water, while it lowers its beak shallowly and moves it from side to side, pushing the mud apart and holding the prey. It swims easily and gracefully, with the center of gravity shifted forward.

Security... In some areas of the range, the number of this species is decreasing due to environmental changes, however, in protected areas, the opposite trend is observed.

Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)

Other species of this family:

Stilt Himantopus himantopus Distinctive features: shape and color of paws, voice


  • Avocet is featured on the coat of arms of the British Bird Conservation Society.
  • The length of the awl wing is 21-23 centimeters.
  • In spring, during a spill, the shiloklyuv makes its nest in a high-positioned place where water cannot reach.
  • Avocents are most active in the morning and evening twilight hours. It is at this time that the shiloklyuv go out in search of food.
  • In Austria, the awosette woodcock is also called the awoosette. This name contains the Latin name for this bird.


Flight: the legs of the bird that flies are extended along the body. On the snow-white underside, the dark-colored ends of the wings stand out brightly.

Beak: long, flat, curved upward. The end is sharp. Avocet walks in shallow water and, with the help of its beak, lowered into the water, takes out small animals and plants from the water.

Carrying: the female lays 3-4 eggs. Incubation lasts 23-25 ​​days. Both birds incubate eggs one by one.

Legs: bluish, long. The legs end in four toes, with a swimming membrane between the front toes.

- The habitat of the shiloklyuvka


Shiloklyuvka lives on the shores of salt lakes from the Danube to the Southeastern Transbaikalia, along the shores of the Caspian, Azov, Aral and Black Seas. It is found near the Baltic Sea, in the Mediterranean countries, in Western Asia, China, Africa, Australia and Tasmania.


Recently, birds have been suffering from the destruction of nesting and wintering places.

Usage Information

Photo "Pied avoket (Recursirostra avosetta)" can be used for personal and commercial purposes according to the conditions of the purchased Royalty-free license. The image is available for download in high resolution quality up to 3272x2181.

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