Adults are 33–36 cm  long, the wingspan – 75 cm. They have long pink legs, a long thin black bill and are blackish above and white below, with a white head and neck with a varying amount of black. Males have a black back, often with greenish gloss. Females’ backs have a brown hue, contrasting with the black remiges. In the populations that have the top of the head normally white at least in winter, females tend to have less black on head and neck all year round, while males often have much black, particularly in summer. This difference is not clear-cut, however, and males usually get all-white heads in winter.

Immature birds are grey instead of black and have a markedly sandy hue on the wings, with light feather fringes appearing as a whitish line in flight.

Distribution and Habitat

Black-winged stilt is a cosmopolitan species, with a spotted distribution, mostly in the tropics and subtropics. Inhabits America, the Galapagos and Antilles, Africa, Fr. Madagascar, the Balearic, Hawaiian, Philippine and Zonal Islands, as well as New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand.

It is also found in Bulgaria in the wetlands along the Black Sea coast, especially in the salty Atanasovsko and Pomorie lakes, the Thracian lowlands, the wetlands along the Danube and others. Nesting-migratory species. In the past, it has muddy along the Danube coast and nearby marshes, near Sofia and the Black Sea lakes. In the 80’s it remained to nest only in the Burgas lakes.

The breeding habitat of all these stilts is marshes, shallow lakes and ponds. Some populations are migratory and move to the ocean coasts in winter; those in warmer regions are generally resident or short-range vagrants. In Europe, the black-winged stilt is a regular spring overshoot vagrant north of its normal range, occasionally remaining to breed in northern European countries.

Northern populations of this species migrate south between August and November to overwinter and return to their nesting areas between March and April. Some populations move to the shores of the ocean during the winter, and those in warmer regions usually are local or with a short range of motion.

It is found in Bulgaria all year round, and in winter only single birds remain, and not every year.

The first spring migrants arrive in early March. In autumn, most of the birds fly away in August and early September.


These birds pick up their food from sand or water. They eat mainly insects and crustaceans The black-winged stilt likes to walk with his long, stilt-like red legs in the shallow waters of the salt lakes. With his beak he probed the muddy bottom of the lake. So he searches for and finds his favorite saltwater crayfish, insect larvae and pupae.


The nest site is a bare spot on the ground near water. These birds often nest in small groups, sometimes with avocets. The nest site is a bare spot on the ground near water. The construction of the nests is after the middle of April. It lays eggs (3–4) at the end of April. The young hatch at the end of May.

Conservation Status

In Bulgaria: endangered species, protected under the BDA, included in the CCB (1985). Most of the nesting sites have been declared protected areas and are being monitored. International: Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)

Stelzenläufer (Himantopus himantopus)




Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)