Himantopus himantopus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Family: Charadriiformes > Recurvirostridae
This graceful long-legged wader used to be a rare passage visitor to Britain, but is now considered a colonising breeder.
With its striking black and white plumage, long bill, and red legs this species evokes the feeling of its Mediterranean home when it is found delicately wading through a lagoon, picking small insects off the water’s surface.
Breeding was first recorded in 1945 (in Nottinghamshire) but we now see a handful of breeding attempts in most years, mostly in southern England, so this species could yet become an established breeder. The reasons for this are unclear, but warming temperatures and improved water quality in our wetlands probably contribute.
Black-winged Stilt identification is usually straightforward.
Listen to example recordings of the main vocalisations of Black-winged Stilt, provided by xeno-canto contributors.
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Status and Trends
Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.
This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.
|UK Birds of Conservation Concern||Amber listed|
|Species of European Conservation Concern||Least Concern|
|IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (global)||Least Concern|
|Schedule 1 license required (to disturb)||No|
|Birds Directive Annex 1||No|
The Black-winged Stilt first nested in the UK in 1983, and made only very occasional breeding attempts until 2014 (Ausden et al. 2016). There are encouraging recent signs that the species is in the process of colonising the UK and becoming a regular breeder,and 2019 was the sixth consecutive year that one or more breeding attempts were made (Eaton et al. 2021).
Most Black-winged Stilts recorded in Britain & Ireland are in spring, comprising individuals and small groups. During 2008–11 such non-breeding birds were recorded in 24 10-km squares in southern Britain and two squares in Ireland. Some records related to pairs or trios, but where these did not remain for long, or the habitat was deemed unsuitable, no breeding evidence was assigned. Many records relate to the same nomadic individuals. Prior to the 2007–11 Atlas there had been six previous breeding attempts in Britain. In 2008 a seventh attempt took place, in Cheshire, but this was ultimately unsuccessful as all three chicks disappeared before fledging.
Occupied 10-km squares in UK
European Distribution Map
Black-winged Stilts are occasional spring overshoots and some birds attempt to breed.
Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.
Lifecycle and body size information about Black-winged Stilt, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.
Sample sizes are too small to report Productivity and Nesting statistics for this species.
Sample sizes are too small to report Biometrics for this species.
Feather measurements and photos on featherbase
|Field Codes||2-letter: IT | 5-letter code: BLWST | Euring: 4550|
For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name
Interpretation and scientific publications about Black-winged Stilt from BTO scientists.
Causes of change
The occurrence of more regular breeding attempts in the UK follows increases in the nearest breeding populations. Climate change may be contributing to this range expansion and drought conditions are expected to occur more frequently in south-west Europe; however, habitat availability, predation and disturbance by humans are all threats that may affect the potential colonisation of the UK by this species (Ausden et al. 2016).
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