Thursday, June 22

Black-winged stilt

   ›      ›   Black-winged stilt - Himantopus himantopus

The black-winged stilt (Himantopus himantopus) belongs to the family of the avocets and the stilts, Recurvirostridae.

The black-winged stilt species are distributed in the Indian subcontinent, Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, North America and South America. The taxonomy of these stilt species is still contentious. There are five normally recognized subspecies of these stilts.

Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Black-winged Stilt Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Black-winged stilt - Overview

  • Scientific name: Himantopus himantopus
  • Species author: (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Charadrius Himantopus Linnaeus, 1758
  • Family: Recurvirostridae › Charadriiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Black-winged stilt, Chinese: 黑翅长脚鹬, French: Échasse blanche, German: Stelzenläufer, Spanish: Cigüeñuela común, Russian: Ходулочник, Japanese: セイタカシギ, Indonesian: Burung Gagang-bayang Belang
  • Other names: common stilt, pied stilt, White-headed Stilt
  • Distribution: Indian subcontinent, Asia, Australia, Africa, Europe, Americas
  • Diet and feeding habits: fish, aquatic insects, molluscs, crustaceans, spiders, oligochaete and polychaete worms, amphibians
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
The black-winged stilt (Himantopus himantopus) is closely related to the black stilt (Himantopus novaezelandiae).

The five normally recognized subspecies of the Himantopus himantopus are: H. h. himantopus (Linnaeus, 1758), H. h. leucocephalus Gould, 1837, H. h. knudseni Stejneger, 1887, H. h. mexicanus (Statius Müller, 1776) and H. h. melanurus Vieillot, 1817.

Appearance, physical description and identification

The black-winged stilt (Himantopus himantopus) is a long-legged wader, measuring 35 to 40 cm in length and weighing 160 to 200 grams.

The black-winged stilt species have overall black and white plumage. There is variance in the head and neck plumage among the subspecies and also in summer and winter. In the nominate subspecies the head and neck varies from all-white to white with the cap and hind neck being blackish.

The rest of the upperparts are blackish and the underparts are white. The blackish back in males has green sheen. In females, the blackish back has brown gloss. The males usually are much blackish on the head in the summer and all-white head in the winter.

The legs are long and pink. The bill is long, thin, pointed and blackish. The irises are red or reddish brown. These black-winged stilt species are noisy birds and their call is a repeated "kwik..kwik..kwik" sound.
Indian birds - Picture of Black-winged stilt - Himantopus himantopus
Birds of India - Image of Black-winged stilt - Himantopus himantopus by Shantanu Kuveskar

Birds of India - Photo of Black-winged stilt - Himantopus himantopus
Indian birds - Picture of Black-winged stilt - Himantopus himantopus by Charlesjsharp

Indian birds - Image of Black-winged stilt - Himantopus himantopus
Birds of India - Photo of Black-winged stilt - Himantopus himantopus by Shantanu Kuveskar

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The black-winged stilt species are distributed in the Indian subcontinent, Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, North America and South America. In India, these species occur in all the states, except Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The black-winged stilt nominate subspecies H. h. himantopus are distributed in the Indian subcontinent, Europe, central Asia, Russia, China, Mongolia, Taiwan, Indochina, Africa and Madagascar. These subspecies winter in southern Africa, Middle East, southeast Asia, Borneo and Philippines.

The black-winged stilt subspecies H. h. leucocephalus are distributed in Sumatra, Java, New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand. They winter in Philippines and Indonesian islands. The subspecies H. h. knudseni is distributed in Hawaiian Islands.

The black-winged stilt subspecies H. h. melanurus are distributed in South America. The subspecies H. h. mexicanus is distributed in North America, parts of South America and Caribbean islands.

Ecosystem and habitat

These black-winged stilt species do not normally occur in forests. These species occur in altitudes from 0 to 4200 meters.

The artificial ecosystems of these black-winged stilt species include irrigated lands, irrigation canals, flooded agricultural lands, fish ponds and flooded pasture lands.

The natural ecosystems of these stilt species include flooded tropical and subtropical grasslands, montane wetlands, coastal lagoons, marine lakes, brackish water lakes, freshwater lakes, mudflats, estuaries, marshes, swamps, rivers, streams and creeks.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these black-winged stilt species is mostly aquatic invertebrates. Fish, crustaceans, aquatic and terrestrial insects, molluscs, spiders, oligochaete and polychaete worms and amphibian are their primary food.

These black-winged stilt species feed by picking the prey from the surface of the water as well as by immersing the head to probe the shallow waters for prey. They also forage in short vegetation for small prey and seeds.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these black-winged stilt species varies vastly over their massive range. In general the breeding season in colder ranges is during summer. In warm tropics and subtropics the breeding season commences after rains.

The nesting sites of black-winged stilts are located in shallow freshwater and brackish water wetlands, marshes, shallow lake edges, riverbeds, flooded fields, irrigated areas, montane lakes, river deltas, estuaries, coastal lagoons, mudflats and swamps.

The black-winged stilt nest is a shallow depression or scrape on hard ground near water, on a hummock or amongst grass and sedge. Sometimes, the nest is constructed as a platform on the floating vegetation. These birds nest solitarily or in loose colonies.

Migration and movement patterns

The black-winged stilt species are partially migrant birds.

The northern breeding populations of black-winged stilt in Europe, Central Asia and parts of North America make long-distance migrations. They move southwards to their wintering grounds between August and November. They return to the breeding grounds in March and April.

The black-winged stilt populations in temperate, sub-tropical and tropical ranges are usually sedentary and resident. They breed within the range, dispersing only locally.

Post breeding, the juveniles may disperse and establish in new locations within the range. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding within their range.

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the black-winged stilt (Himantopus himantopus) is estimated to number 450,000 to 780,000 individual birds. The overall population trend of these stilt species is reported to be increasing.

Throughout its range the stilt species is reported to be locally abundant. The generation length is 7.3 years. Its distribution size is about 302,000,000 sq.km.

Hunting and trapping for food and sport-hunting are the main threats that may endanger the survival of these stilt species.

IUCN and CITES status

The black-winged stilt (Himantopus himantopus) does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable, either under the range size criterion, or under the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the stilt species and has listed it as of "Least Concern". The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for the black-winged stilt (Himantopus himantopus).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Himantopus himantopus
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Charadriiformes
Family:Recurvirostridae
Subfamily:-
Genus:Himantopus
Species:H. himantopus
Binomial name:Himantopus himantopus
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
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1.Photo source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Black-winged_Stilt_(Himantopus_himantopus)_Photograph_By_Shantanu_Kuveskar.jpg (cropped)
Photo author: Shantanu Kuveskar | LIcense: CC BY-SA 4.0
2.Photo source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:White-backed_stilts_(Himantopus_melanurus).JPG (cropped)
Photo author: Charlesjsharp | LIcense: CC BY-SA 4.0
3.Photo source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Black-Winged_Stilt_(Himantopus_himantopus)_Photograph_By_Shantanu_Kuveskar.jpg (cropped)
Photo author: Shantanu Kuveskar | LIcense: CC BY-SA 4.0
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