Bold, graceful, and proud, the Black-Necked Stilt is a bird that never fails to invoke awe and wonder in all who are fortunate enough to catch its eye. With a 28-inch wing span and an approximately 14-inch length, the Black-Necked Stilt is painted jet black on its back, hind neck, and upper head. The rest of the Stilt’s body is a vibrant white, and its slender orange legs are the second longest with regards to body size of all the birds in the world.
The Black-Necked Stilt is usually found in shallow parts of coastal bays as well as salt and freshwater marshes. The bird can be spotted migrating throughout the southern and western United States in areas such as California, Nevada, Texas, and Oregon, and even on the east coast from Delaware to Florida. The Black-Necked Stilt resides throughout much of the Caribbean and Mexico as well as southern South America, East Brazil, and Venezuela. An endangered subspecies called the Ae’o resides in Hawaii.
These creatures usually wade and target their food in shallow to relatively deeper water due to their long legs, sometimes even corralling fish into these areas to consume them by plunging their sharp long beaks down in. In addition to fish such as shrimp and crawfish, the Black-Necked stilt’s diet encompasses various invertebrates and insects like beetles and flies. These abundant and flourishing birds, at times, also eat worms, tadpoles, and seeds.
Male and female Black-Necked Stilts build ground nests together in a rotating-shift fashion by scraping out two-inch deep depressions and fencing them with available surrounding material. Laid eggs are usually a little less than two inches long and a little more than one inch wide. Easy to miss against a dirt ground, the eggs are a brownish gray color with dark spots. After two to three weeks of incubation, these eggs hatch and the young, ambitious Stilts are able to leave their nests less than 2 hours later.
The Black-Necked Stilt can be found almost always at Green Cay during the warm summer months and often during the spring as well. These migratory birds are not found at Green Cay during the winter but make rare appearances during the fall and are always adored by those able to witness its bold, graceful, and proud stature.
By Neeraj Patel