Photography courtesy of Lowell Washburn, all rights reserved.
One of the things I love most about the fascinating sport of waterfowl hunting is that once the decoys have been tossed out, you never know what “incidentals” the day may bring. Each new sunrise seems to provide its own unique adventure.
This week, I was treated to the sight of some unusual feathered travelers when a group of American avocets arrived at the Ventura Marsh. Standing up to 18-inches in height, the avocet is one of the world’s largest and most spectacular shorebirds. With its distinctive black and white plumage and slender upturned bill, the species is hard to mistake for any other bird. An inhabitant of western lakes and shallow alkaline marshes, avocets spend their summers on the open landscapes of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Montana and Utah. During September, the birds begin to move southward; eventually spending the winter along both coasts of Mexico or foraging in Caribbean island marshlands. Although most avocets remain far to the west of Iowa, a few stragglers may drift east of the Missouri River during annual migrations; pleasing human observers wherever they touch down.