Ian’s Bird of the Week – Black Stilt

Black Stilt (Himantopus novaezelandiae) 1 by Ian

Black Stilt (Himantopus novaezelandiae) 1 by Ian

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Black Stilt ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 11/15/11

You’ve done it again! Your collective goodwill and spiritual energy have provided yet another special, this time very special bird, the critically endangered and recently saved from extinction Black Stilt. I did have to do a little work as well to find a couple in their favoured habitat of often inaccessible, so-called braided rivers of the South Island. At the second potential site, see photo, the task seemed impossible – that’s all river bed between the foreground and the mountains – and I almost gave up.

Tasman River by Ian

Tasman River by Ian

The third site wasn’t any better, but the fourth and last was a bridge over another river and you could have knocked me over with a feather when, having just stepped onto the bridge, I spotted two Black Stilts feeding a couple of hundred meters away close to the river bank.
One flew away when I approached but the other was much more cooperative and continued feeding.
Black Stilt (Himantopus novaezelandiae) 2 by Ian

Black Stilt (Himantopus novaezelandiae) 2 by Ian

Eventually it flew off too, but it landed not far away, close to a breeding colony of 3 or 4 pairs of Black-fronted Terns, another species on my wanted list.
Black Stilt (Himantopus novaezelandiae) 3 by Ian

Black Stilt (Himantopus novaezelandiae) 3 by Ian

It stayed for a little while longer, until the terns chased it off. If you look carefully in the last photo, you can see a coloured band on the right leg and bird is presumably one of the captive-bred and released birds.
Black Stilt (Himantopus novaezelandiae) 4 by Ian

Black Stilt (Himantopus novaezelandiae) 4 by Ian

The population of Black Stilts in the wild reached a low of 23 adults in 1981 when the program started, making it the rarest wading bird in the world. There are now probably 200 birds in the wild and the program continues. Lets keep our fingers crossed!
I’ve had a great time so far in New Zealand and yesterday I went on a successful boat trip on Milford Sound in lovely weather for another wanted species, another potential bird of the week. I’m now on my way back to Christchurch to return my splendid campervan – I shall be reluctant to return it.
Best wishes

Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: 0411 602 737 +61-411 602 737
Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au
Website: http://birdway.com.au

Lee’s Addition:

Glad to see the Lord answers prayers. (See Addition –  NZ/Australasian Shoveler) What a neat bird, glad you found it and didn’t give up. With them so few in numbers, that is a Great Catch!

I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me. (Proverbs 8:17 KJV)

The Black Stilt is in the Recurviostridae Family of the Charadriiformes Order. There are 6 Stilts and 4 Avocets. Check out Ian’s Recurviostridae photos.

“Avocets and stilts range in length from 30 to 46 centimetres (12 to 18 in) and in weight from 140 to 435 grams (4.9 to 15.3 oz); males are usually slightly bigger than females.[1] All possess long, thin legs, necks, and bills. The bills of avocets are curved upwards, and are swept from side to side when the bird is feeding in the brackish or saline wetlands they prefer. The bills of stilts, in contrast, are straight. The front toes are webbed, partially in most stilts, fully in avocets and the Banded Stilt, which swim more. The majority of species’ plumage has contrasting areas of black and white, with some species having patches of buff or brown on the head or chest. The sexes are similar.” (Wikipedia)

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