BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Black-necked Stilt is a shorebird. The 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. The bird has very long, thin and pink legs. The long, thin bill is black.  Sexes are similar. The bird’s length is around 35 cm (15 inches).
NAME: ‘Stilt’ refers to the long, thin legs of this species. 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 (see note below on bird vagrancy).
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).
Vagrancy: In biology this means an animal going way outside its normal range. For birds, this can happen when there are storms and they get blown off course. On other times, the bird simply wanders in a different direction than usual. Here’s an article about vagrancy in birds.
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, CA, by
Frank Schulenburg