Living Bird Magazine
Black-necked StiltHimantopus mexicanus
- ORDER: Charadriiformes
- FAMILY: Recurvirostridae
Black-necked Stilts are among the most stately of the shorebirds, with long rose-pink legs, a long thin black bill, and elegant black-and-white plumage that make them unmistakable at a glance. They move deliberately when foraging, walking slowly through wetlands in search of tiny aquatic prey. When disturbed, stilts are vociferous, to put it mildly, and their high, yapping calls carry for some distance. More ID Info
Find This Bird
In mudflats, saltmarshes, flooded fields, or salt pans, Black-necked Stilts are among the most conspicuous and readily identified of all shorebirds. Their frequent calling during the nesting season (and when disturbed) makes them easy to locate. Carrying a spotting scope—or borrowing a look through a fellow birder’s scope—is helpful in this habitat, where these small birds are usually some distance away.
- Cigüeñuela Cuellinegra (Spanish)
- Échasse d'Amérique (French)
- Cool Facts
- Five species of rather similar-looking stilts are recognized in the genus Himantopus. They have the second-longest legs in proportion to their bodies of any bird, exceeded only by flamingos.
- The Hawaiian subspecies of Black-necked Stilt (knudseni) has the black of its neck reaching much farther forward than the mainland forms. Habitat loss and hunting led to a sharp decline in its numbers. The few freshwater wetlands found on the Hawaiian Islands are its main habitat. Its name in the Hawaiian language is Aeo, which means "one standing tall.”
- Black-necked stilts sometimes participate in a "popcorn display,” which involves a group of birds gathering around a ground predator and jumping, hopping, or flapping to drive it away from their nests.
- The oldest recorded Black-necked Stilt was at least 12 years, 5 months old. it was banded in Venezuela and refound in the Lesser Antilles.
- Black-necked Stilt and American Avocet belong to the same family (Recurvirostridae), and they are capable of hybridizing and producing young. The hybrid offspring are rare. Birders who have documented this cross have given it the nickname “avo-stilt.”