Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
[order] Charadriiformes | [family] Recurvirostridae | [latin] Himantopus himantopus | [UK] Pied Stilt | [FR] Echasse blanche | [DE] Stelzenläufer | [ES] Ciguenuela común | [IT] Cavaliere d'Italia | [NL] Steltkluut
spanwidth min.: 64 cm
spanwidth max.: 70 cm
size min.: 33 cm
size max.: 36 cm
incubation min.: 22 days
incubation max.: 25 days
fledging min.: 28 days
fledging max.: 32 days
eggs min.: 3
eggs max.: 5
Length: 35-40 cm
Weight: 165-205 g
Black-winged Stilt (Pied Stilt)
is a black and white shorebird, perched on very long and fine pink legs, giving the bird an elegant gait.
The adult male in breeding plumage has black and white plumage with all-black wings and upper back with greenish iridescence.
Underparts are white, sometimes with pale pinkish wash on the breast.
Head shows white face and forehead, and black top of the crown. Eyes are red. The long, thin bill is black and straight. Very long legs and feet are reddish-pink.
The female in breeding plumage is almost similar but more brownish on the upperparts with sometimes greyish wash on nape and rear neck.
In winter plumage, both are similar to the breeding female but duller, with variable grey wash on head and rear neck.
The juvenile is paler than adult, with washed grey-brown crown and rear neck. The brownish upperparts show narrow pale buff fringes, and legs are duller.
The Black-winged Stilt’s calls are a sharp “kek” and a barking “ke-yak”. Alarm call is a monotonous, high-pitched “kik-kik-kik-kik-kik-kik”.
They are noisy on their breeding areas.
The Black-winged Stilt lives mainly in freshwater and saltwater marshes and mudflats, shallow lakes, coastal lagoons, flooded fields and rice fields.
The Black-winged Stilt has wide range. We can find it in Australia, Central and South America, Africa, Asia, parts of North America, Eurasia, Hawaii and Philippines.
The Black-winged Stilt feeds in shallow water, wading and catching preys on or near the surface. But sometimes, it plunges the head under the surface to capture some aquatic invertebrate. It picks up its food from sand or water.
Its very long legs allow it to walk in deeper water than other waders. This bird rarely swims for food. The Black-winged Stilt is an active forager, and it can employ several methods to catch prey.
This species is well adapted to nocturnal vision, which allows them to feed on windy, moonless nights. Stilts walk quickly, with long strides, wading into water.
The Black-winged Stilt is a migratory bird, moving to the ocean coasts in winter. European birds winter in sub-Saharan Africa. They are often seen in flocks of 10 to 20 birds, and also in mixed flocks with other species of shorebirds.
The Black-winged Stilt nests in small colonies of 2 to 50 pairs, and mated pairs defend vigorously their nest site and territory. They may nest in mixed groups with avocets.
They are gregarious and may feed in large flocks of several thousands birds. When alarmed, the birds often bob their head.
The Black-winged Stilt has rapid direct flight, with steady wing-beats. Legs are projected behind the tail of up to 20 cm, and neck is slightly held.