This species breeds on open salt meadows with small lakes and on small islands in both salt water and fresh water. It requires an open landscape with a large amount of shallow lakes or coasts.

The shallow waters are used for feeding, mainly on crustaceans, snails and small fish.

Breeding sites are mainly predator-free islands and islets that may be as small as a few square meters. It may breed in solitary pairs, but mostly it breeds in small colonies like the terns. Mixed breeding colonies of terns and Pied avocets frequently occur on small islands.

The Pied avocet is listed on Annex I of the Birds Directive (Directive 2009/147/EC).