Thai National Parks

Birds of Thailand

Species of Thailand

Black-winged stilt

Thai: นกตีนเทียน, nok teen thien

Binomial name: Himantopus himantopus, Carolus Linnaeus, 1758

The Black-winged Stilt, Common Stilt, or Pied Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) is a widely distributed very long-legged wader in the avocet and stilt family (Recurvirostridae). Opinions differ as to whether the birds treated under the scientific name H. himantopus ought to be treated as a single species and if not, how many species to recognize. The scientific name Himantopus comes from the Greek meaning "strap foot" or "thong foot". Most sources today accept 2–4 species.

Description

Adults are 33–36 cm long. They have long pink legs, a long thin black bill and are blackish above and white below, with a white head and neck with a varying amount of black. Males have a black back, often with greenish gloss. Females' backs have a brown hue, contrasting with the black remiges. In the populations that have the top of the head normally white at least in winter, females tend to have less black on head and neck all year round, while males often have much black, particularly in summer. This difference is not clear-cut, however, and males usually get all-white heads in winter.

Immature birds are grey instead of black and have a markedly sandy hue on the wings, with light feather fringes appearing as a whitish line in flight.

Taxonomy and systematics

The taxonomy of this bird is still somewhat contentious. Some describe as many as five distinct species; others consider some or all of these to be subspecies. In addition, two dubious subspecies are also sometimes listed, but not as independent species. In the most extensive circumscription, with one species and 5–7 subspecies, this bird is often called Common Stilt. The name Black-winged Stilt on the other hand can specifically refer to the Old World nominate subspecies. The commonly accepted taxa are:

  • Black-winged Stilt proper (Himantopus himantopus himantopus or H. himantopus) (Linnaeus, 1758) – including proposed subspecies meridionalis (S Africa) and ceylonensis (Sri Lanka). W Europe and Mediterranean region to Central Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar, South and Southeast Asia; localized breeder in East Asia (e.g. Taiwan) but more widespread during winter; has become a regular migrant to the Marianas and Saipan and sometimes is seen on other islands in western Micronesia (e.g. Koror, Ngeriungs Islet and Peleliu of Palau) since the late 20th-century. NW populations migrate south to Africa in winter. Head and neck vary from all-white to white with all-black cap and hindneck, usually with white band across upper back. Sometimes vestigial open black chest band.
  • Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus himantopus mexicanus, Himantopus mexicanus mexicanus or H. mexicanus) (P.L.S.Müller, 1776). Southern North America through Central America and Caribbean to N Peru and NE Brazil. Northernmost populations migrate south in winter. Intergrades with White-backed Stilt in C Brazil. Head and neck always white with black cap down to the eyeline, white spot above eye, black hindneck. Usually no white band across upper back. Often vestigial open black chest band.
  • White-backed Stilt (Himantopus himantopus melanurus, Himantopus mexicanus melanurus or H. melanurus) (Vieillot, 1817). South America from C Peru and N Chile to SE Brazil and south to SC Argentina. Intergrades with Black-necked Stilt in C Brazil. Head and neck usually white with black hindneck and a black line from the nape to the eye. Usually has open black chest band and a white band across upper back.
  • White-headed Stilt, Pied Stilt, or (New Zealand) Poaka (Himantopus himantopus leucocephalus or H. leucocephalus) (Gould, 1837). Java to New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand. Southern population winter in the Philippines region. Head usually all-white, neck white, black behind and with open black chest band. Usually a white band across upper back.
  • Hawaiian Stilt or āeo (Himantopus himantopus knudseni, Himantopus mexicanus knudseni or H. knudseni) (Stejneger, 1887). Hawaiian Islands, where it is the only breeding shorebird. Generally similar to Black-necked Stilt, but black on head and neck more extensive, usually extending below the eye.

Ecology and status

The breeding habitat of all these stilts is marshes, shallow lakes and ponds. Some populations are migratory and move to the ocean coasts in winter; those in warmer regions are generally resident or short-range vagrants. In Europe, the Black-winged Stilt is a regular spring overshoot vagrant north of its normal range, occasionally remaining to breed in northern European countries, for example in Britain in 1987.

These birds pick up their food from sand or water. They mainly eat insects and crustaceans.

The nest site is a bare spot on the ground near water. These birds often nest in small groups, sometimes with avocets.

The Hawaiian population is endangered due to habitat loss and probably also introduced predators. The IUCN recognizes 3 species at present, merging the Hawaiian and South American birds with the Black-necked Stilt; consequently, none of the three is listed as a threatened species. The Black-winged Stilt is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds applies.

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Scientific classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Aves
Order
Charadriiformes
Family
Recurvirostridae
Genus
Himantopus
Species
Himantopus himantopus

Common names

  • Thai: นกตีนเทียน, nok teen thien

Synonyms

  • Himantopus leucocephalus, John Gould (1837)
  • Himantopus mexicanus, Philipp Ludwig Statius Müller (1776)

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Distribution map of Black-winged stilt, Himantopus himantopus in Thailand
  • Amphawa District, Samut Songkhram
  • Ao Phang-Nga National Park
  • Ban Khai District, Rayong
  • Ban Laem District, Phetchaburi
  • Ban Lat District, Phetchaburi
  • Ban Lueam District, Nakhon Ratchasima
  • Ban Phai District, Khon Kaen
  • Ban Phraek District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
  • Ban Pong District, Ratchaburi
  • Ban Sang District, Prachinburi
  • Bang Ban District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
  • Bang Len District, Nakhon Pathom
  • Bang Pa In District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
  • Bang Pahan District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
  • Bang Pakong District, Chachoengsao
  • Bang Phra Non-hunting Area
  • Bang Pu Recreation Centre
  • Bangkok Province
  • Borabue District, Maha Sarakham
  • Bueng Boraped Non-hunting Area
  • Bueng Boraphet Non-hunting Area
  • Bueng Khong Long Non-hunting Area
  • Chaiyo District, Ang Thong
  • Chatturat District, Chaiyaphum
  • Chiang Dao District, Chiang Mai
  • Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Chiang Khong District, Chiang Rai
  • Chiang Saen District, Chiang Rai
  • Chum Ta Bong District, Nakhon Sawan
  • Doi Lo District, Chiang Mai
  • Doi Pha Hom Pok National Park
  • Doi Suthep-Pui National Park
  • Erawan National Park
  • Fang District, Chiang Mai
  • Hat Noppharat Thara - Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park
  • Hat Yai District, Songkhla
  • Huai Chorakhe Mak Reservoir Non-hunting Area
  • Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Huai Talat Reservoir Non-hunting Area
  • In Buri District, Sing Buri
  • Kabin Buri District, Prachinburi
  • Kaeng Khoi District, Saraburi
  • Kaeng Krachan District, Phetchaburi
  • Kaeng Krachan National Park
  • Kamphaeng Saen District, Nakhon Pathom
  • Kantharawichai District, Maha Sarakham
  • Khao Nang Panthurat Forest Park
  • Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park
  • Khao Yai National Park
  • Khao Yoi District, Phetchaburi
  • Khemarat District, Ubon Ratchathani
  • Khlong Luang District, Pathum Thani
  • Khon San District, Chaiyaphum
  • Khuan Khanun District, Phatthalung
  • Klaeng District, Rayong
  • Ko Libong
  • Ko Sichang District, Chonburi
  • Kui Buri National Park
  • Kumphawapi District, Udon Thani
  • Kut Thing Non-hunting Area
  • Laem Pak Bia
  • Lan Sak District, Uthai Thani
  • Mae Ai District, Chiang Mai
  • Mae Rim District, Chiang Mai
  • Mae Taeng District, Chiang Mai
  • Mueang Buriram District, Buriram
  • Mueang Chachoengsao District, Chachoengsao
  • Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai
  • Mueang Chiang Rai District, Chiang Rai
  • Mueang Chonburi District, Chonburi
  • Mueang Kalasin District, Kalasin
  • Mueang Khon Kaen District, Khon Kaen
  • Mueang Krabi District, Krabi
  • Mueang Lampang District, Lampang
  • Mueang Lopburi District, Lopburi
  • Mueang Nakhon Nayok District, Nakhon Nayok
  • Mueang Nakhon Ratchasima District, Nakhon Ratchasima
  • Mueang Nakhon Si Thammarat District, Nakhon Si Thammarat
  • Mueang Nonthaburi District, Nonthaburi
  • Mueang Pattani District, Pattani
  • Mueang Phang Nga District, Phang Nga
  • Mueang Phatthalung District, Phatthalung
  • Mueang Phetchabun District, Phetchabun
  • Mueang Phetchaburi District, Phetchaburi
  • Mueang Phichit District, Phichit
  • Mueang Phitsanulok District, Phitsanulok
  • Mueang Ratchaburi District, Ratchaburi
  • Mueang Sa Kaeo District, Sa Kaeo
  • Mueang Samut Sakhon District, Samut Sakhon
  • Mueang Samut Songkhram District, Samut Songkhram
  • Mueang Songkhla District, Songkhla
  • Mueang Sukhothai District, Sukhothai
  • Mueang Suphanburi District, Suphan Buri
  • Mueang Surin District, Surin
  • Mueang Tak District, Tak
  • Mueang Trat District, Trat
  • Mueang Uttaradit District, Uttaradit
  • Nam Nao National Park
  • Non Thai District, Nakhon Ratchasima
  • Nong Bong Khai Non-hunting Area
  • Nong Han Lake
  • Nong Song Hong District, Khon Kaen
  • Nong Suea District, Pathum Thani
  • Nong Ya Plong District, Phetchaburi
  • Nong Yai Area Development Project Under Royal Init
  • Pa Sak Chonlasit Dam Non-hunting Area
  • Pak Chong District, Nakhon Ratchasima
  • Pak Phanang District, Nakhon Si Thammarat
  • Pak Phli District, Nakhon Nayok
  • Pak Thale
  • Pak Tho District, Ratchaburi
  • Pak Thong Chai District, Nakhon Ratchasima
  • Pha Taem National Park
  • Phanat Nikhom District, Chonburi
  • Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
  • Phra Phrom District, Nakhon Si Thammarat
  • Phutthamonthon District, Nakhon Pathom
  • Pran Buri District, Prachuap Khiri Khan
  • Pran Buri Forest Park
  • Rattanawapi District, Nong Khai
  • Sai Noi District, Nonthaburi
  • Sakaerat Environmental Research Station
  • Samut Prakan Province
  • San Sai District, Chiang Mai
  • Sanam Bin Reservoir Non-hunting Area
  • Sanam Chai Khet District, Chachoengsao
  • Sankhaburi District, Chainat
  • Sathing Phra District, Songkhla
  • Satuek District, Buriram
  • Sawi District, Chumphon
  • Si Satchanalai District, Sukhothai
  • Song Phi Nong District, Suphan Buri
  • Taphan Hin District, Phichit
  • Tha Sala District, Nakhon Si Thammarat
  • Tha Takiap District, Chachoengsao
  • Tha Yang District, Phetchaburi
  • Thale Noi Non-hunting Area
  • Thanyaburi District, Pathum Thani
  • Thap Lan National Park
  • Wang Chan District, Rayong
  • Wang Noi District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
  • Wat Phai Lom & Wat Ampu Wararam Non-hunting Area
  • Wiang Kaen District, Chiang Rai

Range map of Himantopus himantopus in Thailand

Important note; our range maps are based on limited data we have collected. The data is not necessarily accurate or complete.

Special thanks to Ton Smits, Parinya Pawangkhanant, Ian Dugdale and many others for their contribution for range data.

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