Black-winged stilt

Himantopus himantopus

The Black-Winged Stilt is a small wader characterised by having very long legs for the size of its body. Its long narrow beak helps it feed on small invertebrates in the mud.
 

It nests on the ground and has curious defensive behaviour: if an intruder approaches the nest, it runs away feigning a broken wing, but then takes flight once it has lured the predator away from the young.

Natural habit

Almost all countries of the world

Black-winged stilt
  • Distribution / Resident
  • Breeding
  • Wintering
  • Subspecies

Risk level

  • Extint
  • Extint in the wild
  • Critically endangered
  • In Danger
  • Vulnerable
  • Near threatened
  • Minor concern
  • Insufficient data
  • Not evaluated
Least Concern

Taxonomy

Class
Aves
Order
Charadriiformes
Family
Recurvirostridae

Physical characteristics

166-205 g
Birth Weight:
35-40 cm
Up to 5 years

Biology

Habitat
Wetlands
Social life
Gregarious
Feeding
Insectivorous

Reproduction

Gestation
22-26
Days
Baby
3 to 6

Discover how they are

Biology

Description

The common stilt is a small wader, famous for its red long legs, its long thin bill and black and white hue. It is the most common wader, with the largest distribution in our country.

Habitat

It lives in all kinds of deltas, estuaries, coastal lagoons, marshlands and shallow rivers and lakes. It can tolerate quite well areas greatly altered by human action.

Feeding

Its fragile bill allows it to capture small invertebrates and mostly aquatic insects, in the mud or the surface of water, on which it feeds.

Reproduction

Due to its wide distribution area, its reproductive season varies greatly. It is a gregarious species that reproduce in breeding colonies, that can be formed by a few couples to hundreds of nests, which are built on the ground, that resemble a small land depression covered with plants. In the nest, it lays three to six eggs, normally four, that are brooded for 22 to 29 days by both sexes. They are very aggressive towards anything or anyone that approaches their nests and aggressions to different large rapacious and ducks have been reported.

Conduct

It is sedentary, from southern United States to eastern Argentina, only avoiding the Amazon, and all Africa below Sahara, except for forest areas of the continent, India and most of South-east Asia, as well as New Guinea and Australia. In the Nearctic and the Palearctic realms, it is exclusively a summer species, reaching these areas at the beginning of April to build its nest, before returning to the south, to spend the winter in warmer areas.  In the Iberian Peninsula it is an exclusively summer species.

Status and conservation programs

It is a quite common species, whose main threat is habitat degradation, especially its breeding territories, caused by human activity. It is not considered endangered, despite increasing degradation of aquatic and coastal environments, which represents a future threat for the conservation of the species.