Black-winged Stilt

©Karl Svendsen
©Robert Hofmeyr


Black-winged stilt - Himantopus himantopus

Black-winged Stilt Appearance

The black-winged stilt is a wader, with long red to orange legs. The plumage is black above and white below, with a white head and neck. This bird has a thin pointed black bill.

The black-winged stilt has the longest legs of any bird, in relation to its body size


The black-winged stilt feeds mainly on crustaceans and insects. Tadpoles make up a part of their diet throughout the year.

Black-winged Stilt Breeding

The black-winged stilt nest in small colonies, with the birds defending their individual territories in the colony. The nest will vary from a shallow scape to a mound of vegetation, all depending on the available resources. Two to four eggs are laid and incubated by both parents for around 25 days.

The chicks are precocial and are fed by both parents, and fledge at around 30 days.

Black-winged Stilt Behaviour

The black-winged stilt feeds in shallow water, wading and catching its prey on or near the surface. The black-winged stilt, with its long legs, can feed in deeper water than birds of the same size. They very rarely swim.



Black-winged stilt Distribution and Habitat

The black-winged stilt is found in fresh and saltwater areas, in marshes, mudflats, lakeshores and lagoons. They are found throughout South Africa, except in very arid areas.