A Black-necked Stilt is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Black-necked Stilts. We have also put together a list of fun Black-necked Stilt t-shirts, Black-necked Stilt bird patches, birdhouses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers, and other fun bird-watching items.
About Black-necked Stilts
The Black-necked Stilt is an American shorebird that is found along the coast of California to the Western United States and along the Gulf of Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.
Description and Identification
These birds have elegant appearances that mark them unique from other shorebirds. They
are tall but small-bodied birds around 13.8 – 15.3 inches with very long legs, long necks,
small heads, and thin, straight, and black bills. Adult males have black plumages above and
white feathers below, with an area of white around the eye and rosy-pink legs. Females
generally have brownish plumages instead of black while the juveniles may be entirely white
above and below. The wings of both adults and juveniles are marked by broad horizontal
stripes of black and white, with a wingspan that can range between 28 – 30 inches for
Black-necked Stilt Size
Both sexes are equal in size.
- Length: 35-39 cm
- Weight: 136-220 g
- Wingspan: 71 cm
Black-necked Stilt Color Pattern
The adult Black-necked Stilts have white underparts and black banding that begins from the head, just below their eyes and continues down their backs. They have black wings and a white tail with gray tips. They get their name from the black coloration that wraps around their necks from the back, leaving only a small white patch at the front.
Juvenile black-necked stilts are olive brown and have rows of black speckles on their upper parts.
All of the individuals have pink legs and a long, thin black bill.
Black-necked Stilt Behavior
The Black-necked Stilts are social creatures and they live in dozens of pairs all within range of each other. The distance between the nests ranges between 2.1 m to 40 m. They patrol and defend their nesting grounds as a community and protect each other.
What Black-necked Stilt Eat
These birds primarily consume aquatic invertebrates like small crustaceans, amphibians,
snails, and tiny fish. They also prey on larval mosquitoes, soldier flies, brine flies, caddisflies,
dragonflies, mayflies, crickets, grasshoppers, crayfish, brine shrimp, tadpoles, small frogs,
small fish, and many kinds of beetles. They usually forage for these preys with their heads
partly submerged, capturing their food with a quick peck. Another technique that they employ
is by swinging their long bills from side to side in the water to skim the invertebrates from the
surface. They have also been observed to occasionally chase shallow fish to trap them before consumption. Seeds and forms of aquatic vegetation also form a small part of their
The stilts mainly feed on animal life consisting of crustaceans, arthropods, small fish, tadpoles and mollusks. They also feed on plant seeds, though very rarely.
They obtain their food by foraging and poking the wet ground with their long bills and nipping out their food.
Where Black-necked Stilts Live
Black-necked Stilts are lowland birds that are mainly found in emergent wetland habitats.
They inhabit shallow wetlands with limited vegetation, like salt ponds, flooded areas along
rivers, shallow lagoons, salt marshes, mangrove swamps, mudflats, lacustrine, and
estuarine. Areas like sewage ponds, evaporation ponds, rice fields, and other manmade
wetlands also host stilts, with some populations preferring manmade wetlands over their
natural habitats. They prefer areas with large openings of shallow water to nest in, with the
nesting preference remaining constant during breeding and winter. Shallow waters are ideal
for these Stilts to forage for food in freshwater fish impoundments.
They dwell in areas near water bodies such as ponds, lakes, and estuaries. They prefer lacustrine and salty water bodies such as salt ponds and salt lakes.
They are mostly found in low areas but some have been found to nest 2,500 m above sea level.
Range and Migration
Black-necked Slits are shorebirds found in American coastlines and wetlands. These
migratory birds are found breeding from the coastal areas of California through a vast portion
of interior western United States. Their wintering grounds take them along the Gulf of Mexico
where they can be found as eastwards as Florida before they continue southwards through
Central America, the Caribbean, and northern South America. Northernmost populations
tend to be the most migratory and can be regularly found on the Baja California peninsula
during the winter. They vacate the inland areas once the breeding season is over and move to
the coasts. There are some populations that are endemic to tropical regions like Hawaii.
Black-necked Stilt Lifecycle
Females lay 3 to 5 eggs every season and the males and females take turns incubating the eggs for 22 to 26 days. The younglings leave the nest within two hours of hatching but are dependent on the adults for at most two months.
Black-necked Stilt Nesting
Black-necked Stilts are found nesting on the ground on surfaces above water. These
locations include small islands, clumps of vegetation, or floating mats of algae. The sites are
chosen by both the males and the females at areas with soft sand or another substrate to
create a nesting depression. These nests are generally rested among vegetation stubbly
directly adjacent to the water or are placed on dikes, islands, or high spots with sparse
vegetation. They are built by both males and females with one observing while the other
creates a depression. The linings are added during the incubation period of 24 – 29 days
and involve materials that are the most easily found by the pair, such as grasses, shells,
mud chips, pebbles, and bones. Each breeding season witnesses only 1 brood, with the size
of a clutch ranging from 2 – 5 eggs.
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes
At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.
Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Black-necked Stilts
The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing Black-necked Stilts are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.
Black-necked Stilt T-shirts
If you love the Black-necked Stilt you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.
Black-necked Stilt Iron On Patches
Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron on patches. Our bird watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen an identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.
The Black-necked Stilt is a great iron on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.
Black-necked Stilt Stickers
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Black-necked Stilt. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.
Bird Feeders For Black-necked Stilt
There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.
Best Bird Houses for Black-necked Stilt
There are many types of bird houses. Building a bird house is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 bird houses have become our favorites. Getting a bird house for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these bird houses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.