Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus)

Black-necked Stilt

[order] CHARADRIIFORMES | [family] Recurvirostridae | [latin] Himantopus mexicanus | [UK] Black-necked Stilt | [FR] Echasse d’Amerique | [DE] Schwarznacken-Stelzenlaufer | [ES] Candelero Americano | [NL]


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Himantopus mexicanus NA, LA w, s USA to Peru and e Brazil, Hawaiian Islands
Himantopus mexicanus knudseni Hawaiian Is.
Himantopus mexicanus mexicanus w and s USA to sw Peru and ne Brazil, West Indies

Physical charateristics

A large, extremely slim wader; black above, white below. Note the grotesquelylong red legs and needlelike bill. In flight, the black unpatterned
wings contrast strikingly with the white rump, tail, and underparts.

Listen to the sound of Black-necked Stilt

[audio: Stilt.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 68 cm wingspan max.: 77 cm
size min.: 35 cm size max.: 39 cm
incubation min.: 22 days incubation max.: 26 days
fledging min.: 1 days fledging max.: 1 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 5  


North America, Latin America : West, South USA to Peru and East Brazil, Hawaiian Islands


Grassy marshes, mudflats, pools, shallow lakes (fresh and alkaline).
Found at all seasons at the margins of shallow water in very open country, especially where there is much marsh growth. For nesting, requires bare open ground near water, with little vegetation. Often found in the same
places as American Avocet, but the stilt is more partial to fresh water.


Typically nests in loose colonies, sometimes mixed with avocets. If humans or predators approach a colony on foot, several adults fly to a spot some distance away and perform distraction display there, walking about with one wing fluttering, as if to lure
the intruder away; also hover overhead, calling loudly.
Nest: Site is on bare open ground, or on slight rise surrounded by water. Nest (built by both sexes) variable, may be simple scrape in soil or mound built up above water level, lined with pebbles, shells, debris.
Eggs: 4, sometimes 3-5. Buff, blotched with brown and black. Incubation is by both parents, about 25 days. On hot days, adult may go to water and wet belly feathers to cool eggs.
Young: Downy young leave nest shortly after hatching; are tended by both parents but feed themselves. Age at first flight about 4-5 weeks.

Feeding habits

Mostly insects and crustaceans.
Feeds on tiny creatures that live on or near surface of water, including many flies, beetles, and other insects, shrimp, crayfish, snails; sometimes eats tadpoles or tiny fish. Also eats some seeds of aquatic plants. On some western lakes, may feed heavi
ly on brine shrimps and brine flies.
Behavior: Finds most food visually, picking items from surface of water or mud with bill; may spot items underwater, and plunge head into water to take them. A standing bird may grab flying insects as they pass.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Black-necked Stilt status Least Concern


Western and southeastern United States to Argentina. Winters mainly south of United States. Migration:
Vacates most inland areas in winter, moving to coasts, and some may migrate well to the south. Strays sometimes wander far beyond breeding range, especially in late spring.

Distribution map

Black-necked Stilt distribution range map

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