By Chester A. Reed
AVOCET (Recurvirostra americana). Easily known by the very slender upturned bill and the long bluish legs, the latter giving them a local name of "Blue-stocking." They are among the largest of our waders, measuring about 18 in. in length. The bird shown is in summer plumage. In winter and immature plumage they have no rusty 'color on the head. The plumage of the under parts is very firm and duck-like. Their webbed feet enable them to swim easily and they frequently do so.
They are particularly abundant in alkaline regions of the west, and occur north to Saskatchewan. They are rarely found east of the Mississippi River.
They frequently feed in shallow water by immersing the head and sifting the soft mud with their slender bills.
BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus). These birds, which are easily recognized by their striking black-and-white plumage and by the unusual length and slenderness of their red legs, are abundant in southwestern United States, breeding north to Oregon and Colorado and along the Gulf coast to Florida and Cuba. They feed chiefly by wading and gleaning tiny insects from the surface of the water or from aquatic plants rising above the surface.
PHALAROPES are small shore birds having lobed webs on each toe, thus having excellent swimming power. Their feathers underneath arc very closely set and water-proof. Wilson Phalarope, which has a chestnut stripe on the side of the neck, breeds in the interior, from Alberta south to Texas. Red and Northern Phalaropes, the former rufous below and the latter with the neck largely reddish-brown, breed in Arctic regions and migrate chiefly on the coasts or at sea.