Black-necked Stilts

Black-necked Stilt maleBlack-necked Stilt male – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2500, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

Black-necked Stilts (Himantopus mexicanus) have returned from their wintering grounds to Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and other locations in Utah. Black-necked Stilts are black and white shorebirds with long pink to reddish legs, thin black bills and lovely red eyes.

I photographed this male Stilt as he fed in front of me on April 16th in a marshy area on the auto tour route. Note the glossy black back with a slight iridescence.

Black-necked Stilt femaleBlack-necked Stilt female – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2500, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 314mm, natural light

Female Black-necked Stilts have browner backs than the males as shown in the image above.

Black-necked Stilts can live up to 19 years, their diet consists of small fish, frogs, clams, worms, flies, shrimp, tadpoles and snails. They breed around marshes, shallow ponds, lakes and manmade water areas. Black-necked Stilts are social birds and they are often seen in flocks of 25 or more.

Currently their status is secure but increased use of pesticides and loss of wetlands could cause this species to decline.


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About Mia McPherson

I am a nature lover, wildlife watcher and a bird photographer. I first become serious about bird photography when I moved to Florida in 2004 and it wasn’t long before I was hooked (addicted is more like it). My move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and to pursue my passion for photographing birds.


  1. Your images are truly remarkable and bring to mind the fact that, of recent, I have had the opportunity of observing these, for the first time, in the wild.

    • Matthew, thank you for your very kind words on these Black-necked Stilt images. I think they are very lovely and graceful shorebirds. I recall the first time I saw them and the wonder & amazement I felt looking at them. I’m glad that you have been able to see them for your first time in the wild.

  2. Beautiful photos Mia, you make Utah sound like such a wonderful place to explore and provide such great information on the species. I would never have been able to distinguish between the male and female without a lot of research.

  3. Great job, Mia. These are one of my favorite shorebirds.

  4. Wonderful views, such unique legs they have. Those eyes are cool.

  5. Sweet light and super detail here, Mia. I love these cute little birds with their pink legs.

  6. Mia, absolutely exquiste images of these very elegant birds! It’s nice to see the male/female comparison. Love the little eye reflections you caught in each of the photographs as well as the water droplets. Truly outstanding work!

    • Julie, it can be a challenge to get catchlights and show the red in Black-necked Stilt’s eyes, I was very pleased with both of these frames because they did show that. Thank you!

  7. I love these elegant birds, and I love your photos of them. Wonderful photos Mia!

  8. These little guys look so intent on feeding. They are so ‘cute’ for lack of a better word. Love how focused they are. Just fantastic Mia. Carol

  9. Wonderful shots Mia.

  10. These are terrific comparison shots of the male and female birds, Mia. I like the water drops too. Beautiful birds and great photos!

  11. These guys are so delicate and fragile looking. I like that you caught some eye highlights. Great photos, Mia.

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