Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus)
Calls: A sharp yipping. Given continuously when disturbed.
Range / Habitat: Black-necked Stilts are found on the margins of shallow inland lakes and ponds. They also also use wetlands with more emergent vegetation such as flooded fields. Black-necked Stilts may visit coastal mud flats during migration.
Prior to 1973, the Black-necked Stilt was not known to breed in Washington. A pair in 1973 in Grant County provided the first nesting record for Washington followed by five more pairs in 1977. According to some, these initial records corresponded with dry years in southwestern states, which forced the stilts north to Washington where they have been established locally.
During the breeding season, Black-necked Stilts are scattered in small colonies from Potholes Reservoir in central Washington north to Okanogan County. They are occasionally seen in western Washington in spring (April to May).Click the range map to learn more about the distribution of Black-necked Stilt in Washington.
Diet: Black-necked Stilts most often consume aquatic invertebrates. They also eat small fish, tadpoles, and seeds of aquatic plants.
Behavior: Black-necked Stilts are gregarious birds. They roost in small groups, but spread out while foraging.
Black-necked Stilt adults will participate jointly in anti-predator displays. The anti-predator display called 'the popcorn display' consists of a group of adults circling around a ground predator and hopping side to side while flapping their wings. Black-necked Stilts often call loudly and incessantly when agitated by an animal in their territory.
The female typically lays four eggs. Both parents incubate and care for young. Pairs normally have one brood per season.
The precocial chicks are able to leave the nest within 1-2 hours of hatching. Family groups still remain together after the young can fly.
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