Fairly common but local in coastal wetlands and brackish lagoons, estuaries; scarce inland. Striking and essentially unmistakable, with elegant shape, boldly pied plumage, long bluish-gray legs, and long, slender, upcurved bill. Curve is stronger on female. Usually breeds in small colonies; nesting birds call noisily. Nonbreeding flocks locally number in hundreds. Feeds while wading in shallow water, sweeping its bill side to side.