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Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
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This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Taxonomic note

Himantopus himantopus (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) was previously split as H. himantopus, H. leucocephalus and H. mexicanus and following AOU (1998) and SACC (2006). Prior to that, H. melanurus had been split from H. mexicanus following Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993). 

Population justification
The global population is estimated to number c.700,000-3,800,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2014).

Trend justification
The overall population trend is increasing, although some populations may be stable and others have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006).

Behaviour Northern populations of this species make long-distance migratory movements, travelling southwards to their wintering grounds between August and November and returning to their breeding areas between March and April (Hayman et al. 1986). In more temperate regions the species is sedentary or only locally dispersive however (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species breeds solitarily or in loose colonies of 2-50 or occasionally up to several hundred pairs (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996). It is typically a gregarious species, occurring in small groups (Snow and Perrins 1998) (up to 15 individuals) (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996) or larger flocks of several hundred up to a thousand individuals on migration, during the winter (Urban et al. 1986, Snow and Perrins 1998) and at nightly roosts (Urban et al. 1986). Habitat Breeding The species typically breeds in shallow freshwater and brackish wetlands with sand, mud or clay substrates and open margins, islets or spits near water level (Snow and Perrins 1998). Suitable habitats include marshes and swamps, shallow lake edges, riverbeds, flooded fields (del Hoyo et al. 1996), irrigated areas (Snow and Perrins 1998), sewage ponds (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and fish-ponds (Snow and Perrins 1998). The species may also breed around alkaline and high-altitude (montane) lakes (del Hoyo et al. 1996) or in more saline environments such as river deltas, estuaries (Snow and Perrins 1998), coastal lagoons (Johnsgard 1981, Snow and Perrins 1998) and shallow coastal pools with extensive areas of mudflats, salt meadows (Johnsgard 1981), saltpans, coastal marshes (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and swamps (Snow and Perrins 1998). Non-breeding Outside of the breeding season the species occupies the shores of large inland waterbodies and estuarine or coastal habitats (del Hoyo et al. 1996) such as river deltas (Snow and Perrins 1998), coastal lagoons (Johnsgard 1981, Snow and Perrins 1998) and shallow freshwater or brackish pools with extensive areas of mudflats, salt meadows (Johnsgard 1981), saltpans, coastal marshes (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and swamps (Snow and Perrins 1998). Diet Its diet is strongly seasonal (del Hoyo et al. 1996) but generally includes adult and larval aquatic insects (e.g. Coleoptera, Ephemeroptera, Trichoptera, Hemiptera, Odonata, Diptera, Neuroptera and Lepidoptera), molluscs, crustaceans, spiders, oligochaete and polychaete worms, tadpoles (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and amphibian spawn (Urban et al. 1986), small fish, fish eggs (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and occasionally seeds (Urban et al. 1986). Breeding site The nest is a depression (Flint et al. 1984) or shallow scrape positioned on hard ground near water on a hummock (Flint et al. 1984) or amongst grass and sedge (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Alternatively the nest may be a more elaborate platform of vegetation (Snow and Perrins 1998) constructed on a floating mass of aquatic vegetation (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species nests singly or in loose colonies (del Hoyo et al. 1996), showing a preference for open areas close to foraging sites with good all-round (360 degree) visibility (Johnsgard 1981).

Related state of the world's birds case studies

Blaker, D. 1967. An outbreak of Botulinus poisoning among waterbirds. Ostrich 38(2): 144-147.

Brazil, M. 2009. Birds of East Asia: eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, eastern Russia. Christopher Helm, London.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Delany, S.; Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Flint, V. E.; Boehme, R. L.; Kostin, Y. V.; Kuznetsov, A. A. 1984. A field guide to birds of the USSR. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.

Hayman, P.; Marchant, J.; Prater, A. J. 1986. Shorebirds. Croom Helm, London.

IUCN. 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2012.1). Available at: (Accessed: 19 June 2012).

Johnsgard, P. A. 1981. The plovers, sandpipers and snipes of the world. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, U.S.A. and London.

Melville, D. S.; Shortridge, K. F. 2006. Migratory waterbirds and avian influenza in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway with particular reference to the 2003-2004 H5N1 outbreak. In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 432-438. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, UK.

Snow, D. W.; Perrins, C. M. 1998. The Birds of the Western Palearctic vol. 1: Non-Passerines. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Urban, E. K.; Fry, C. H.; Keith, S. 1986. The birds of Africa vol. II. Academic Press, London.

van Heerden, J. 1974. Botulism in the Orange Free State goldfields. Ostrich 45(3): 182-184.

Wetlands International. 2014. Waterbird Population Estimates. Available at: (Accessed: 12 June 2014).

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Malpas, L., Symes, A. & Taylor, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Himantopus himantopus. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Black-winged stilt (Himantopus himantopus) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Recurvirostridae (Avocets, Stilts)
Species name author (Linnaeus, 1758)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Increasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 56,700,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- 2015 European Red List assessment