The pied avocet is a striking white wader with bold black markings. Adults have white plumage except for a black cap and black patches in the wings and on the back. They have long, upturned bills and long, bluish legs. It is approximately 16.5–17.75 in (41.9–45.1 cm) in length of which the bill is approximately 2.95–3.35 in (7.5–8.5 cm) and the legs are approximately 3–4 in (7.6–10.2 cm). Its wing-span is approximately 30–31.5 in (76–80 cm). Males and females look alike. The juvenile resembles the adult but with more greyish and sepia tones.
The call of the avocet is a far-carrying, liquid, melodious kluit kluit sound.
These birds forage in shallow brackish water or on mud flats, often scything their bills from side to side in water (a feeding technique that is unique to the avocets). They mainly eat crustaceans and insects.
Their breeding habitat is shallow lakes with brackish water and exposed bare mud. They nest on open ground, often in small groups, sometimes with other waders.