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Black-necked Stilt

Black-necked Stilt
Photo Information
Copyright: Peter van Zoest (PeterZ) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2013-09-18
Categories: Birds
Camera: Nikon D90, Sigma 135-400mm f/4.5-5.6 APO, Digital RAW
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/3000 seconds
Details: Tripod: Yes
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2014-08-17 7:09
Viewed: 1468
Points: 38
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
The Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus) is a locally abundant shorebird of American wetlands and coastlines. It is found from the coastal areas of California through much of the interior western United States and along the Gulf of Mexico as far east as Florida, then south through Central America and the Caribbean to northwest Brazil southwest Peru, east Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands. The northernmost populations, particularly those from inland, are migratory, wintering from the extreme south of the United States to southern Mexico, rarely as far south as Costa Rica; on the Baja California peninsula it is only found regularly in winter.

It is often treated as a subspecies of the common or Black-winged Stilt, using the trinomial name Himantopus himantopus mexicanus. However, the AOU has always considered it a species in its own right, and the scientific name Himantopus mexicanus is often seen.

Adults have long pink legs and a long thin black bill. They are white below and have black wings and backs. The tail is white with some grey banding. A continuous area of black extends from the back along the hindneck to the head. There, it forms a cap covering the entire head from the top to just below eye-level, with the exception of the areas surrounding the bill and a small white spot above the eye. Males have a greenish gloss to the back and wings, particularly in the breeding season. This is less pronounced or absent in females, which have a brown tinge to these areas instead. Otherwise, the sexes look alike.
Downy young are light olive brown with lengthwise rows of black speckles (larger on the back) on the upperparts – essentially where adults are black – and dull white elsewhere, with some dark barring on the flanks.


Distribution and habitat
The Black-necked Stilt is found in estuarine, lacustrine, salt pond and emergent wetland habitats; it is generally a lowland bird but in Central America has been found up to 2,500 m ASL and commonly seen in llanos habitat in northern South America. It is also found in seasonally flooded wetlands. Use of salt evaporation ponds has increased significantly since 1960 in the USA, and they may now be the primary wintering habitat; these salt ponds are especially prevalent in southern San Francisco Bay.

Food and feeding
The Black-necked Stilt forages by probing and gleaning primarily in mudflats and lakeshores, but also in very shallow waters near shores; it seeks out a range of aquatic invertebrates – mainly crustaceans and otherarthropods, and mollusks – and small fish, tadpoles and very rarely plant seeds. Its mainstay food varies according to availability; inland birds usually feed mainly on aquatic insects and their larvae, while coastal populations mostly eat other aquatic invertebrates. For feeding areas they prefer coastal estuaries, salt ponds, lakeshores, alkali flats and even flooded fields. For roosting and resting needs, this bird selects alkali flats (even flooded ones), lake shores, and islands surrounded by shallow water.

This stilt chooses mudflats, desiccated lacustrine verges, and levees for nest locations, as long as the soil is friable. Reproduction occurs from late April through August in North America, with peak activity in June, while tropical populations usually breed after the rainy season. The nests are typically sited within 1 km of a feeding location, and the pairs defend an extensive perimeter around groups of nests, patrolling in cooperation with their neighbours. Spacing between nests is approximately 20 m, but sometimes nests are within 2.1 m of each other and some nests in the rookery are as far as 40 m from the nearest neighbour.

The Black-necked Stilt is actually classified as semicolonial since the nests are rarely found alone and colonies usually number dozens, rarely hundreds of pairs. The nests are frequently established rather close to the water edge, so that their integrity is affected by rising water levels of ponds or tides. This is particularly a hazard in the case of managed salt ponds where water levels may be altered rapidly in the salt pond flooding process.

The clutch size generally is 3–5 eggs with an average of four. For 22–26 days both sexes take turns incubating the eggs. The young are so precocial that they are seen swimming within two hours after hatching and are also capable of rapid land velocity at that early time. In spite of this early development the young normally return to the nest for resting for one or two more days. They fledge after about one month but remain dependent on their parents for some more weeks. Birds begin to breed at 1–2 years of age.

Particularly the North American populations of the black-necked stilt have somewhat declined in the 20th century, mainly due to conversion of habitat for human use and pollution affecting both the birds directly as well as their food stocks. But altogether, the population is healthy and occurs over a large range. This stilt is therefore classified as a Species of Least Concern by the IUCN.

Source: Parts of Wikipedia

marius-secan, iti, Hotelcalifornia, oscarromulus, imageme, ramthakur, anel, CeltickRanger has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

hallo Peter
Staat gewoon een beetje te slapen
Super mooie opname met veel scherpte super goed licht en prachtige kleuren
bedankt weer gr lou

Hello Peter,
Nice to see your images. Remarkable photo and comments. This lovely specie has wonderful natural colors. The contrast against the background is superb. Very nice photo taken from a excellent POV.
Thanks for sharing!

Hello Peter-Beautiful picture of this Stilt.Very nice colour and sharpness.Well detailed and nice light.Thanks for sharing.Regards and have a nice time-Srikumar

  • Great 
  • iti Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 577 W: 0 N: 650] (7939)
  • [2014-08-17 9:22]

Hi Peter,
Another very nice capture. Amazing colours,nice pose
and perfect sharpness details.
Regards Jiri.

Hello Peter,
I learn a lot via your notes. THANKS.
Lovely soft & perfectly balanced colours.
A lot of detail ... looks like a 3D image.
It's looking into your lens.
Kind regards,
My server, Telus, has "fixed" the tiny corruption that had been placed on my TN connection.

Great time for the Amazing pose. Excellent DOF stunning details with fantastic light.


Hi Peter, Details note comes with this species. Great details and sharpness. Well balanced light and tones with natural colors. Excellent composition. Thank for sharing

  • Great 
  • tuslaw Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2754 W: 282 N: 4931] (19883)
  • [2014-08-17 12:57]

Hello Peter,
What a gorgeous shorebird you have captured, the overall quality is outstanding. I love it's black and white plumage and that long curved bill. The one legged pose is quite attractive and the tiny glint in it's eye is always a real bonus. A real beauty Peter!!

  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6595 W: 89 N: 15659] (65489)
  • [2014-08-17 13:07]

Hi Peter,the pose is absolutely fantastic,with the leg in the same position of the hand of an old and rich woman..ehhee...magnificent capture of this stilt that i not seen in Mexico despite its name..ehhe...great detail,colors and exposure for an another pearl in your birds gallery.Have a nice week and thanks,Luciano

Great photo Peter! Nice pose, very good composition, wonderful colours and impressive sharpness!

Hello Peter!
Superb shot of this Stilt in an elegant pose. Perfect sharpness and details and a great contrast with the greenish blue water in the backdrop. Well done and thanks for sharing,
Best Regards,

Perfect shot of this beautiful stilt. Thanks for showing.

Your treasure of pictures from Brazil seems to be inexhaustible, Peter.
What a beautiful Stilt!
Remarkable clarity and composition.

Magnífica fotografía, adecuada exposición, perfecto contacto con la mirada, colores naturales, y entorno de hábitat correcto.
Felicitaciones, Peter!


  • Great 
  • john1 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 122 W: 0 N: 439] (3410)
  • [2014-08-18 9:47]

Hi Peter,

Wonderful capture and awesome shot, great sharpness and the détails are superb.
Perfect light, i Like very much the texture of the plumage.
My best regards.
John vantighem

Hi Peter,

A very good image of this Stilt.

Great and TFS,

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2014-08-23 4:12]

Hello Peter,
very fine colors and light underline the elegant pose of this waterbird. Very well done!

Hello Peter

You shot the photo at the best moment of this wader bird's pose,
a gracious pose in a beautiful light, lovely eye-contact, and the
catch-light rendering always the photo more beautiful, TFS


Ciao Peter, great capture of lovely bird in nice standing pose, fine details, wonderful natiural colors and splendid sharpness, very well done, my friend, ciao Silvio

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