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 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 man made 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.



  1. Mathew May 3, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    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.

    • Mia McPherson May 3, 2012 at 4:22 pm

      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. Jim Braswell April 30, 2012 at 7:32 am


  3. Susan April 28, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    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.

    • Mia McPherson May 3, 2012 at 11:23 am

      Susan, thanks for your comment on these images. Utah is a fantastic location, this valley in particular is a birder’s paradise in my opinion.

  4. Scott Simmons April 28, 2012 at 10:21 pm

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

  5. Debbie Miller @HooootOwl April 28, 2012 at 10:01 pm

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

    • Mia McPherson May 3, 2012 at 11:21 am

      Thank you Debbie, their legs are unique and the eyes are very appealing to look at.

  6. Julie Brown April 28, 2012 at 7:10 pm

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

    • Mia McPherson May 3, 2012 at 11:20 am

      Hi Julie, I love these shorebirds too, they are so elegant looking. Thanks for your comment.

  7. Julie G. April 28, 2012 at 9:19 am

    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!

    • Mia McPherson April 28, 2012 at 11:54 am

      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!

  8. Linda Rockwell April 28, 2012 at 9:14 am

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

    • Mia McPherson April 28, 2012 at 11:53 am

      Linda, I hope you are feeling better. Thank you for your very kind comment on these images.

  9. Carol Mattingly April 28, 2012 at 8:29 am

    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

    • Mia McPherson April 28, 2012 at 11:51 am

      Carol, I think they are cute too. Thank you.

  10. Azstu April 28, 2012 at 8:15 am

    Wonderful shots Mia.

    • Mia McPherson April 28, 2012 at 11:51 am

      Thank you very much Stu and for sharing this post on Facebook too.

  11. Scott April 28, 2012 at 8:09 am

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

    • Mia McPherson April 28, 2012 at 11:50 am

      Thank you Scott, these images do show the differences in the genders well.

  12. Bob Zeller April 28, 2012 at 7:16 am

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

    • Mia McPherson April 28, 2012 at 11:50 am

      Bob, thanks! I think they are delicate looking too until I see them get fiesty with each other!

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