When I'm out photographing birds, the Black-necked Stilt is the bird I'm most often asked about by passersby. They all want to know what that cute little bird with the red legs is. The red legs are undoubtedly the most distinctive feature of these guys, but those long legs allow them to wade in the water and have the perspective to see what they're going after. I frequently see them feeding alongside American Avocets, as shown above.
While the American Avocets sweeps its bill from side to side to find prey, the Black-necked Stilt has a more direct approach -- it carefully eyes what's before it and takes a snatch-and-grab approach. Here are a few shots that demonstrate the technique.
Black-necked Stilts do sit, but more often they sleep standing up, perched on one leg, usually in pairs or small groups. Check out these guys dozing in the water and the Three Amigos on shore in the shot following and their reflection in the water.
And here's a shot of a Black-necked Stilt with somebody who isn't even a cousin -- a Black-bellied Plover, another shorebird I love but don't see too often. (It's in its winter suit, but will have an actual black belly come summer.)
And here are a couple more shots that give you a really good look at how gorgeous this bird is. By the way, you may have noticed that some images show the bird with a brownish back, rather than the jet black in the others. That's the female with the brownish/ black coloring.
The stark black and white coloring of the Black-necked Stilt sure isn't apparent when they're babies. How's that for a set up? Are you ready now to see some chicks? Prepare yourself to die from the cuteness!
What, you're still here? You survived the onslaught of the adorable? Well, this is mom and did she ever give me an earful when she saw how close I got to her babies.
I'm very lucky to live in an area where Black-necked Stilts are year-round residents. Some of the Western states will see them in summer as will the southeastern coast of the U.S., but you folks in the Midwest are just outta luck when it comes to seeing these beauties. Black-necked Stilts are one of the San Francisco Bay Area's treasures. I hope you've enjoyed looking at these images as much as I enjoy photographing these beautiful birds. Thanks for stopping by.