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black-necked stilt

black-necked stilt (Himantopus mexicanus)
Photo © Alan Murphy Photography

Features and Behaviors

The black-necked stilt has black feathers on the upper side, and white feathers on the lower side. The pink-red legs are very long. The tail and rump are white. This slim bird is 14 inches long.

Spring migrants arrive in Illinois in April. Breeding birds remain all summer, and an influx of southward migrants appears in late July and August. A few birds linger in the state until October. The species overwinters in Central and South America. This species has been expanding its range in Illinois, and a black-necked stilt nest was first documented in 1994 in Jackson County. Black-necked stilts are most often seen along the Mississippi, Illinois and other large rivers and lakes in the state. They can also be seen in wetland areas in the northeastern portion of the state. It eats insects, crustaceans and other small invertebrates.

Illinois Range


​Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Recurvirostridae

Illinois Status: common, native