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Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus


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Black-necked Stilt, male
credit: Mike Baird/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Recurvirostridae, Stilts and Avocets view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Has mainly black upperparts and white underparts; sometimes acquires pinkish flush to underparts in breeding season. Throat and front of neck are white and note white patch above eye on otherwise black face. ADULT FEMALE Similar to male, but back is brownish, not jet-black. JUVENILE Similar to adult, but with less extensive black on neck, and pale feather edges on back.

Dimensions Length: 13-16" (33-41 cm)

Habitat Locally fairly common in shallow ponds, lake margins, and marshes. Summer range contracts south and west in fall and mainly coastal in winter, often favoring brackish lagoons; coastal belt of Texas and southern Florida are good.

Observation Tips Easy to observe and identify if suitable habitats are visited.

Range Mid-Atlantic, Florida, Northwest, Western Canada, Plains, Texas, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Southeast, California

Voice Utters an insistent kleet.

Discussion Unmistakable, elegant wading bird, with ridiculously long, red legs, striking black and white plumage, and a long, straight, and very thin bill. Long legs allow it to feed in deep water, but it also forages in shallows, picking small invertebrates from surface with precision. In flight, uniformly black wings and long, trailing legs make identification straightforward. Sexes are separable with care.