Saturday, March 12, 2011

Black-necked Stilt

A Blck-necked Stilt, Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.
We had a very clear look at a couple of Black-necked Stilts (BNS) wading through the marshes of Puerto Morelos. They are very elegant birds with very long legs - hence its name "stilt." These tall waders have beautiful black and white markings with bright red legs in breeding season. But as seen in its non-breeding plumage (Above) their legs are of a more pale pink. They use their long needle-like bill to search the muddy bottoms of the marshes that they like to inhabit (Below).

A Black-necked Stilt using its long bill to probe the muddy bottom of the marsh to find food; Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.

Black-necked Stilts are year round residents of Mexico and parts of Central America and the northern fringes of South America. Although during my research about their occurances in the US, I found a wide range of information. According to Sibley's Field Guide to Birds of North America, BNS are fairly common throughout much of southwest US during summers, as well as permanent residents of the Pacific Coasts of California and the Gulf Coast states. Other sources do not list them as being as common in the US as year round residents, but in the summer months, BNS certainly migrate as far north as into western Canada, up the Mississippi River into southern Illinois, as well as he southern Atlantic coast.
A Black-necked Stilt, Phoenix, AZ; 12/26/09.
The first time I saw a BNS was in the winter of 2009, while visiting Phoenix (Above). I thought they seemed very exotic with their long legs. There was a small flock of three hanging around a water hazzard of the Ocotillo Gulf Course. As I slowly approached them to get photos they moved pretty quickly in the water, but flew away as I came too near. As they flew, instead of tucking their legs underneath them as other tall wading birds do, they let their long legs hang straight out behind them (Below).
Black-necked Stilts in their flight pattern, Phoenix, AZ; 12/26/09.
A pair of Black-necked Stilts; Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.

I took this pic of the scene with a black-necked Stilt in the background (upper left) and a Killdeer and a couple of Least Sandpipers in the foreground. I didn't know at the time, but there was a crocodile lying on the muddy bank in the lower left of the pic, Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.
In my ongoing commentary about the commonality of crocodiles in and around Cancun and Puerto Morelos, the photo (Above) is another example of a crocodile definitely present, but its colors were so well camouflaged by the muddy banks it was lying on, that we didn't even know it was there until later when I was perusing through my photos.

1 comment:

Chesney said...

What a beauty and what cool legs! That is one tall bird! I love those legs and the way they hang while the bird is in flight!