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Black Stilt

From Opus

Photo © by Ornitho26Near Omarama, South Island, New Zealand, 24 November 2005
Photo © by Ornitho26
Near Omarama, South Island, New Zealand, 24 November 2005
Himantopus novaezelandiae


[edit] Identification

37–40 cm (14½-15¾). Black, long-legged stilt
Adult, black with long, fine, black bill. Very long red legs
Juvenile, white breast, neck, head. Black patch around eyes. Other plumages varying in amount of black on breast and head.

[edit] Similar species

Hybridizes with Pied Stilt (H. leucocephalus); resulting individuals are variable. Compared to pure adults, darker hybrid adults have longer bills, shorter legs. Compared to pure juveniles, hybrid adults have some solid black on breast.

JuvenilesPhoto © by Tiger1New Zealand, February 2015
Photo © by Tiger1
New Zealand, February 2015

[edit] Distribution

Restricted during the breeding season to the upper Waitaki Valley, South Island, New Zealand. Small numbers overwinter in the North Island.

[edit] History

The population may have numbered 500-1,000 birds in the 1940s, but in 1999, the total number was 40 (nine females, 28 males and three of unknown gender), a loss of 10 over the previous 18 months. In 2001 the wild breeding population consisted of just 7 pairs, but a maximum of 84 adults were recorded in the wild in August 2002. Sixty dark hybrids are known. The captive population consisted of 25 adults in 2002.

[edit] Taxonomy

This is a monotypic species[1].

[edit] Habitat

It breeds on braided riverbeds, but also occurs in wetlands and swamplands.

[edit] Behaviour

[edit] Diet

Their diet consists of a wide variety of insects and their larvae, such as mayflies, caddisflies and stoneflies. They also eat small fish.

[edit] Breeding

The lay four eggs and will usually re-nest if the first clutch is lost early in the season. Most breed for the first time at three years of age. The average age is 6.8 years, and at least eight are older than 10 years.

[edit] Vocalisation

Call: Loud, high-pitched, monotonous yapping.

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from
  2. Pierce, R.J., Kirwan, G.M., Boesman, P. & Sharpe, C.J. (2017). Black Stilt (Himantopus novaezelandiae). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 22 March 2017).
  3. BirdLife International. 2016. Himantopus novaezelandiae. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22693690A93418187. Downloaded on 22 March 2017.
  4. Marchant, S.; Higgins, P.J. (eds) 1993. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds. Vol. 2, raptors to lapwings. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
  5. Pierce, R.J. 2013. Black stilt. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds Online.

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