Perched on very long and fine reddish legs, the Black-Winged Stilt (Himantopus H lucocephalus) is an attractive pied shorebird with an elegant gait. I fell in love at first sight with this eye-catching wader, which makes a graceful #14 Bird Photography Challenge.
What does it look like?
The Black-Winged Stilt is a large black and white wading bird with very long and skinny reddish legs. As the name suggests it has all black wings, an area of black plumage at the back of the neck and the upper back. The underparts are white, sometimes with a pinkish wash on the breast. It has a white collar, red iris and a straight black bill which is long and thin. Its body averages 37cm in size, but the bird is tall and truly looks like it is walking on stilts! The legs account for 60% of its height. In flight they trail noticeably behind the tail. The wingspan is about 75cms.
How does it behave?
The Black-winged stilt is a social specie and is usually found in small colonies of 50 or so pairs as shown in the photo. It is gregarious and may feed in large flocks of several thousands of birds on aquatic insects, molluscs and crustaceans. It uses its sharp bill to peck at food items while wading in shallow water. It seizes prey on or near the surface. Occasionally it plunges its head below the surface to catch small fish or to pull worms from the mud. Mated pairs defend their nest site and territory vigorously. The nest is a shallow scrape on the ground or a mound near the water. Both sexes incubate the eggs and look after the young.
Did you know?
In order to keep predators away from its unhatched eggs, a Black-Winged Stilt can pretend to be injured so it can lure them away. The stilt may also make a sharp yapping sound and fly around frantically to distract any predators.
Where is it found?
The Black-Winged Stilt is globally widespread. Its range extends to Australia, Africa, Europe, Asia and even the United States. Some populations are migratory and move to the coast in winter; those in warmer regions are generally resident or short-range vagrants. Within Australia there is a seasonal migration of some birds north, out of Victoria in winter. The stilt frequents freshwater and salt water marshes, mud flats and the shallow edges of lakes and rivers. The photos were taken at Lake Borrie Wetlands, which are part of Melbourne Waters, with a Canon 60D camera and 100-400 lens fully extended and hand held. Click on any image in the gallery to display in full screen.
12 thoughts on “Bird Photo Challenge #14: Black-Winged Stilt”
Yes another of my favourites too, great photos
They look so interesting! Some of them might well migrate north for winter so making the most of their presence now!
They are fantastic Chris. I would love to go back there with you, especially with this Tamron lens see what it is like for birding.
Thank you Leanne… We should… Let’s plot something on a Friday soon?
If you’re interested, you really should get in touch with Diana Doyle at Birding Aboard (www.birdingaboard.com). It’s a citizen science project to try and get a better understanding of seabirds by photographing them and recording coordinates of the sighting. If you send photos to them, they help you record and identify the sighting. Fun stuff!
Oh wow, thank you for the information. We’ll definitely get in touch! Anything that helps with conservation is worthwhile!
though it’s hard to pronounce this is a fantastic bird. Those legs!!
Just call him stilt for short! I know, the red legs… so spindly and tall!
PS: I like the info you give too!!
Fantastic pictures! Thank you for an informative post.:)
They are elegant and distinctive, aren’t they!