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Black-winged Stilt - BirdForum Opus

(Redirected from Himantopus himantopus)

Disambiguation: The Australian species of Pied Stilt (or White-headed Stilt) is also sometimes known as Black-winged Stilt

Pair : male behind
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Basai, Gurgaon, Haryana, India, September-2015
Himantopus himantopus


Photo © by Nigel Blake
Titchwell, Norfolk, August 2004

33-36 cm (13-14¼ in)

  • Black upperparts
  • White underparts
  • White head and neck
  • Long pink legs
  • Long thin black bill

Male - black back with green gloss
Female - brown back but blackish wings.
Immature - grey, sandy wings.


Both sexes can show all white head and neck or variable amounts of black on crown and nape.


Europe, Mediterranean and sub-Saharan Africa to Southeast Asia and Taiwan.

European population

Breeds irregularly in scattered localities in southern Europe but an opportunistic species that occasionally breeds far out of normal range or abandons long-established areas for no apparent reason. May not breed at all in dry years. Most regular areas are Iberia and western and southern France, Sardinia, Sicily and Italy, Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey, the Ukraine and southern Russia, and in Mesopotamia. Also breeds on the Mediterranean coast of North Africa, in parts of the Middle East and on the Cape Verde Islands. Has bred in Britain, northern France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Germany and Poland, also in the Canary Islands.

Most birds are migratory especially in the north but frequently winters in southern Europe and occasionally further north, and regularly in North Africa and Iraq.

Vagrancy in Europe
Photo © by riccardo.rondinone
Stagni della Marza, Sicily, August 2009

Vagrant to most European countries north to Sweden, Finland and Estonia. Also recorded on the Azores, Madeira and Canary Islands. In Britain several are now recorded annually and breeding has been attempted at least six times. Most of the c.300 records have occurred in the south-east and in April-May and August-September.

A male (nicknamed "Sammy") at Titchwell in Norfolk, England, was still present in August 2004 after becoming resident in the area in September 1993. Accidental to the Aleutians in Alaska.


This is a monotypic species[1].

Pied Stilt (or White-headed Stilt) of Australia and New Zealand, has been split from this species[2].


Photo © by mikemik
Seceoveljske soline, Slovenia, June 2009

Areas of shallow water, fresh or brackish, with margins of sand or mud, but does not require vegetation to any extent. Usually on lagoons or in estuarine or delta areas.


Often loosely colonial when breeding.


Recording © by Alok Tewari
Jamnagar, Gujarat, India, Jan-2016
Call given by a group circling over a pond; consisting of 10-12 birds.

Recording © by Alok Tewari
Three types of calls are heard here: alarm calls, alert calls (single brief repeated at intervals) calls and flight calls (sharp calls in 2nd half of the recording)/ adults were defending their nesting sites and young ones from real and perceived threats.


Click on photo for larger image


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Jonsson, L 1992. Birds of Europe with North Africa and the Middle East. Christopher Helm Publishers, London. ISBN 0713680962
  3. Avibase
  4. Pierce, R.J. and G. M. Kirwan (2020). Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman, B. K. Keeney, P. G. Rodewald, and T. S. Schulenberg, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.bkwsti.01

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