Black winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)

Black-winged Stilt

[order] Charadriiformes | [family] Recurvirostridae | [latin] Himantopus himantopus | [UK] Black-winged Stilt | [FR] echasse blanche | [DE] Stelzenlaufer | [ES] Ciguenuela de Alas Negras | [IT] Cavaliere eurasiatico | [NL] Steltkluut


Monotypic species

Physical charateristics

The Black-winged Stilt, Himantopus himantopus, is a large wader in the avocet and stilt family, Recurvirostridae. Adults are 33-36 cm long. They have long pink legs, a long thin black bill and are mainly white with a dark cap and a dark back.

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wingspan min.: cm wingspan max.: cm
size min.: 36 cm size max.: 39 cm
incubation min.: 22 days incubation max.: 26 days
fledging min.: 28 days fledging max.: 32 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 5  


Black-winged Stilt has a wide range. We can find it in Australia, Central and South America, Africa, Asia, parts of North America, Eurasia, Hawaii and Philippines. In Suriname a wintering guest (rade mexicanus) from North America. A common wader in wet areas in the coastal plane (Wageningen).


Black-necked stilts prefer marshes, mudflats, flooded fields, ponds and drainage ditches where food is abundant.


Nests are built on the ground near water, and are made of sticks, mud, or shells, or scrapes in the ground, and may be lined with grass, twigs, and shells. Females lay three or four tan-colored eggs with dark brown or black irregular spots. Incubation is 22 to 26 days. Chicks are able to run, walk and swim as soon as their down is dry, which is usually within 24 hours of hatching.
Black-necked stilts may arrange their nests in small colonies of six to ten nests. Although parents share nest-tending through the incubation period, males will often mob intruders and will even try to chase people away. After the chicks hatch, the parents will remove all eggshells from the nest, probably to better camouflage the nest. At night, chicks will hide from predators in the water, inhibiting predators from seeing them or smelling them.

Feeding habits

Black-winged Stilts feed mainly on aquatic insects, but will also take molluscs and crustaceans. They rarely swim for food (unlike the Banded Stilt), preferring instead to wade in shallow water, and seize prey on or near the surface. Occasionally, birds plunge their heads below the surface to catch sub-aquatic prey.


This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 10,000,000 km². It has a large global population estimated to be 360,000-2,300,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2002). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Black-winged Stilt status Least Concern


Sedentary in places, but local movements to long distance migration elsewhere. Northern populations of race himantopus and mexicanus migrate in July-November to Africa and Central and South America respectively, returning in March-May, usually over period of less than 1 month at any one site. Local movements recorded throughout most of tropics, but patterns poorly understood. In New Zealand, South and inland breeders of leucocephalus migrate to North New Zealand in January-March, returning in August-September, whereas lowland and Northern breeders mainly sedentary. Spring passage typically involves flocks of up to 15 birds.

Distribution map

Black-winged Stilt range map


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