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Photographing The Black-Winged Stilt

Eschenbach shares some top tips for photographing the black-winged stilt.

| Eschenbach Binoculars Arena D+ 10x50 B in Animals / Wildlife

Photographing The Black-Winged Stilt : black winged stilt

In Spain, black-winged stilts are nicknamed "small storks" - which is not surprising when you take a look at their long red legs. But there is more to learn about the little bird.


The black-winged stilt legs are so long they make up almost 60 percent of its total size! In flight, they protrude about 16 centimeters beyond the tip of the tail. The beak looks like a black needle; long, straight and very thin. The head, neck, chest, abdomen and upper tail are white. The upper back and wings are black; some subspecies also have black on their nape. Males and females look similar except for the upper back and the wings: in males they have a greenish iridescence, in females a brown shimmer.

In flight, the completely black wings look like sharp triangles. The black-winged stilt always keeps its neck slightly held when flying.



The black-winged stilt mainly breeds in southern Central Europe, on the Caspian and Black Sea and in Turkey. Sometimes, however, it flies further north, for example, in Switzerland or southern France. They are a typical long-distance migrant and spend winter in Africa.

With its long legs, the stilt can look for food in the water without getting wet. Therefore, it prefers shallow water zones in lagoons, saltwater marshes, edges of lakes and ponds.


Behavior and facts

When pecking in the water, the stilt especially looks for water insects, crustaceans, tadpoles and small fish. His long legs give him the advantage of being able to wade in deeper water where it has no competitor - except, of course, other black-winged stilts, but they mostly eat in groups anyway.

During the courtship from March to May, the high, loud calls of the stilts are widely audible. Couples often undertake joint reconnaissance flights to find a suitable breeding ground. This is ideally located on a small island or other sheltered places that weasels and foxes can’t reach.

The female lays four green eggs with dark spots and both parents incubate them for about three weeks. The chicks hatch and immediately start exploring their environment under their parents’ protection.

Black-winged stilt are very courageous parents and defend their offspring against any danger - no matter how big it is. Raptors are attacked as well as cows or horses if they come too close to the breeding site. The parents can also pretend that they are unable to fly to attract the attention of the enemy.

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NeilSchofield Avatar
NeilSchofield Plus
16 1.8k 1 United Kingdom
2 Feb 2018 11:50AM
From a photographic point of view simply get the sun behind you and pay attention to backgrounds and if there is no sun pay more attention to the background and try to shoot wide open
johnsphotos Avatar
7 Feb 2018 11:48AM
I live close to a gravel pit near Marlow in Buckingham shire.We had a pair black-winged228642_1518004042.jpg
stilts.There were lots of twitchers came to see them as you can imagine

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