BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus)
DESCRIPTION: The Black-necked Stilt is a shorebird with very long, thin and pink legs (hence the name). The long, thin bill is black. Plumage is black for the head, back and neck sides. The throat, breast, under parts and tail are white. There’s also a white spot just above the eye. Sexes are similar. The bird’s length is around 35 cm (15 inches).
NAME: The Latin genus name ‘Himantopus’ is from Greek and refers to the long thin legs of the species. The Latin species name ‘mexicanus’ means ‘of Mexico’.
HABITAT: Shallow wetlands.
DIET: Small fish and invertebrates. Black-necked stilts will submerge their head under the water to snatch prey if needed.
NESTING: This stilt nests on mudflats in a shallow depression. An average of four beige eggs are laid, incubated by both parents. Chicks can swim soon after hatching and can feed themselves. Parents will fake an injury to try and lure a predator away from the nest.
DISTRIBUTION: This species breeds in the southwest USA and migrates southward to Mexico and Central America, overlapping with year-round populations there.
ON PEI: The black-necked stilt does not breed on Prince Edward Island and there’s only been accidental sightings of this bird on the island so far.
CONSERVATION: Thanks to its widespread range and stable population, this species is currently not at risk. Threats however include pollution of its food sources and loss of habitat.
NOTES: Stilts legs are the longest relative to their bodies aside from Flamingos. One subspecies of the black-necked stilt is the endangered Hawaiian Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus knudseni).
SIMILAR SPECIES: American Avocet
American Bird Conservancy (Black-necked Stilt)

Black-necked Stilt - near Corte Madera, CA - Oct. 19, 2013 - © Frank Schulenburg
Black-necked Stilt – near Corte Madera, CA – Oct. 19, 2013 – © Frank Schulenburg