Recurvirostridae is a family of birds in the wader suborder Charadrii. It contains two distinct groups of birds in three genera, the avocets and stilts. All possess long, thin legs, necks, and bills. The bills of avocets are curved upwards, and are swept from side to side when the bird is feeding in the brackish or saline wetlands they prefer. The bills of the stilts, in contrast, are straight. The majority of species have plain plumage, usually in contrasting black and white, with some species having patches of buff or brown on the head or chest.
Avocets and stilts are a cosmopolitan family, being distributed on all the world's continents except Antarctica, and they also occur on several oceanic islands. There are several wide ranging species and a few locally distributed species. The taxonomy of the stilts is particularly debated, with the genus Himantopus being considered to have between two to six species. One species, the Black Stilt of New Zealand, is critically endangered due to habitat loss, introduced predators and hybridisation with the Pied Stilt.
Stilts and avocets breed on open ground near water, often in loose colonies. They are monogamous, although the pair bonds are not maintained from season to season. Three to four eggs are laid in simple nests, and both parents share the incubation duties. The Banded Stilt may only breed every couple of years, as it breeds on temporary lakes caused by rains in the deserts of Australia. In all species except the Banded Stilt the downy precocial chicks are cared for several months by the parents; Banded Stilts deviate from this by collecting their chicks in massive crèches number several hundred chicks.