They have long legs and long, thin, upcurved bills which they sweep from side to side when feeding in the brackish or saline wetlands they prefer. The plumage is pied, sometimes also with some red.
The avocets have webbed feet and they will readily swim. Their diet consists of aquatic insects and other small creatures.
They nest on the ground in loose colonies. In estuarine settings they may feed on exposed bay muds or mudflats.
The four species, all in the genus Recurvirostra are:
- Pied Avocet, Recurvirostra avosetta
American Avocet, Recurvirostra americana
Red-necked Avocet, Recurvirostra novaehollandiae
Andean Avocet, Recurvirostra andina