Black-winged Stilt – feeding, flight and call

“Black-winged Stilts (Himantopus himantopus himantopus) are a joy to watch both for their grace and also as they are usually in a social group. Uncommon at the Peninsular prior to 1996, they now occur in large numbers in my region (Wells 2007). At this wetlands site alone there are an excess of 80 birds.

“There are number of feeding techniques used. In shallow waters, besides pecking at prey, they also probe (below, male and female probing).

“In addition they use scything through loose mud/sediment in very shallow waters. They keep their bills very slightly apart and then from one side to the other, in shallow water/mud to filter our prey. The image below shows this method being used by a juvenile…

“Scything is stated as a feeding technique that is unique to the avocets but Black-winged Stilts use it as well.

“The common calls I heard them make at the single note ‘kek’ (Black-winged Stilt-calls-3a-Malim Nawar, Perak, Malaysia-31th January 2013). This is a communication ‘keep in touch’ call, often with a response.

“Then there is the occasional alarm calls, a continual group call ‘kikkikki…’ (Black-winged Stilt-calls-1a-Malim Nawar, Perak, Malaysia-31th January 2013) often uttered in flight.

“Both audio recording have been processed to reduce background noise and amplify calls. For more details see: Hayman, Marchant, Prater. Shorebirds: Identification Guide to the Waders of the World.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
31th January 2013

Location: Malim Nawar Wetlands, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Extensive ex-tin mining area with extensive pond/lakes, wetlands, fish farming
Red Data Status: Least Concern

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