Thursday, August 6, 2009

Black-necked Stilt

I never understood the appeal of visiting marshes until I discovered the black-necked stilt.  

Aren't they lovely?  I found them in a small marsh near Monterey, CA.  Black-necked stilts are social birds, so you frequently see them in groups.  I couldn't get any pictures of both of them in focus, so the above picture is here to show two together and how they look in their native habitat.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium has an indoor aviary with local birds and the black-necked stilt is included.  Here you can see his long beak, which is used for eating insects and spearing aquatic invertebrates.


This is the only picture where I captured the red in his eye and his puffy underside.  My field guide refers to the underside as "clean white underparts," which makes me giggle.

When you compare the ratio of the black-necked stilt's legs to the rest of his body, these birds have the longest legs of any North American bird.  When they walk, their strides are long and their movements delicate. 

They carefully eat from the water.

Jon got him to talk by making yip-yip noises.  Here, the stilt is answering Jon's call.

This picture goes along with my birds in motion obsession.  The birds surrounding the black-necked stilt are greater yellowlegs.  It's worth enlarging the picture to see the details.  The stilt is thinking, "What's up with these spazzes?  I have humans photographing me all the time."

We're going to visit some marshes this weekend, so I hope to see an avocet.  They're supposed to be really common, so cross your fingers!


2 comments:

  1. I love, love, love these guys. Great pictures of them! T

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