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 or swimming, sweeping its bill side to side. Most common in coastal wetlands and brackish lagoons and estuaries, but will also appear inland, particularly on or near large lakes.