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A photo of a Pied Stilt (Himantopus leucocephalus)
Pied Stilt

Pied Stilt

Himantopus leucocephalus

The Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) is a slender wader known for its strikingly long, pink legs and contrasting black-and-white plumage. Adults typically measure between 33 to 36 centimeters in length, with a long, thin black bill adding to their elegant appearance.

Identification Tips

Males of the species boast a black back, often with a greenish sheen, while females display a more brownish tinge on their backs, setting them apart from the black remiges. The head and neck are predominantly white, with variations in the amount of black depending on the sex and subspecies. During the non-breeding season, males may develop all-white head feathers.

Habitat

These birds favor marshes, shallow lakes, and ponds as their breeding grounds. They are adaptable and can be found in both inland and coastal environments, depending on the season.

Distribution

The Black-winged Stilt has a broad range, with populations found across Europe, Asia, and Africa. Some groups are migratory, traveling to ocean coasts in winter, while others in warmer regions tend to be resident or engage in short-range movements.

Behaviour

Black-winged Stilts are known for their social nesting habits, often breeding in small colonies, sometimes alongside avocets. They exhibit a variety of courtship behaviors and are capable of breeding in regions far north of their typical range under favorable conditions.

Song & Calls

The flight call of the Black-winged Stilt is a distinctive sound that birdwatchers can learn to recognize, aiding in the identification of these birds in their natural habitat.

Breeding

The species nests on the ground near water, with a preference for bare spots. They have been known to breed successfully in regions beyond their traditional range, including instances of breeding in Britain and northern European countries.

Diet and Feeding

Their diet consists mainly of insects and crustaceans, which they deftly pick up from sand or water surfaces.

Conservation status

The Black-winged Stilt is currently listed as Least Concern by the IUCN, indicating a stable population across its extensive range. The species is protected under the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds.

Similar Species

While the Black-winged Stilt is distinct in its appearance, it can be confused with other stilt species such as the Black-necked Stilt (H. mexicanus) in the Americas or the Pied Stilt (H. leucocephalus) in Australasia and New Zealand. However, differences in plumage and location can help distinguish between these species.

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Pied Stilts on Birda

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More Stilts, Avocets

A photo of a Banded Stilt (Cladorhynchus leucocephalus)

Banded Stilt

Cladorhynchus leucocephalus
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