Black-winged Stilt

Black-winged stilts (Himantopus himantopus) are members of the family Recurvirostridae, which includes avocets and stilts.


Black-winged stilts are large, cosmopolitan waders with distinctive black wings, pink legs, and snowy white feathers elsewhere. There’s some plumage variation among individuals, with some having increased black or grey markings around the back of the neck and crown, with others being completely white aside from the wings. Such patternings are most present in juveniles, as well as noticeably lighter wings.

They feed mostly on mollusks, shrimp, insects, worms, tadpoles, and small fish, picking off prey in typical wader fashion. They flock in single species groups. Some black-winged stilts are residents while others are migratory, breeding in southern Europe and Siberia and wintering in Southeast Asia. They appear in Hong Kong as migrants, though some can be seen here throughout the winter.


Stilts are rather confusing taxonomically, as there is currently scientific debate over whether to break up the species into subspecies or treat them as separate altogether. Other stilt species are more obviously localized, but the black-winged stilt is a bit nebulous in this respect.