Black-winged Stilt

Himantopus himantopus (Linnaeus, 1758) IT BLWST 4550
Family: Charadriiformes > Recurvirostridae

Black-winged Stilt, Chris Knights

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.

Select a topic for more facts and statistics about the Black-winged Stilt

  • Breeding
  • Winter


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.


We have no population estimates for this scarce species.


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.

Black-winged Stilt breeding distribution 2008-11
Britain and Ireland Breeding Distribution 2008-2011.
More from the Atlas Mapstore.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2



Black-winged Stilts are occasional spring overshoots and some birds attempt to breed.

Weekly occurence of Black-winged Stilt from BirdTrack
Weekly occurrence patterns (shaded cells) and reporting rates (vertical bars) based on BirdTrack data. Reporting rates give the likelihood of encountering the species each week.


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.


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


For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Gaelic: Fad-chasach
Welsh: Hirgoes Adeinddu
Catalan: cames llargues
Czech: pisila cáponohá
Danish: Stylteløber
Dutch: Steltkluut
Estonian: karkjalg
Finnish: pitkäjalka
French: Échasse blanche
German: Stelzenläufer
Hungarian: gólyatöcs
Icelandic: Háleggur
Irish: Scodalach Dubheiteach
Italian: Cavaliere d'Italia
Latvian: garstilbis
Lithuanian: baltasparnis kojukas
Norwegian: Stylteløper
Polish: szczudlak (zwyczajny)
Portuguese: pernilongo
Slovak: šišila bocianovitá
Slovenian: polojnik
Spanish: Cigüeñuela común
Swedish: styltlöpare
Folkname: Longshanks


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).

Links to more information from

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