Birding Notes

Reflections on birds and other wildlife on the edge of a southern woodland

Monday, June 15, 2009

Black-necked Stilts, Kiawah Island

The birding highlight of a visit to Kiawah Island last week was finding Black-necked Stilts in the marsh grasses around the Willet Pond – along with four Wood Storks, two Glossy Ibis, several Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Tri-colored Herons, at least one Little Blue Heron, two Green Herons, four Least Terns, Royal Terns, lots of Laughing Gulls, and two Ospreys around the nest occupied in March by Great Horned Owls. Photos by Clate Sanders

We first saw the Black-necked Stilts Sunday, June 7, at the Willet Pond. I had been watching herons, egrets and the wood storks, when I began noticing agitated calls that sounded to me like repeated breeks, and saw something fly up around one of the Wood Storks. To my amazement, it was a Black-necked Stilt – a very elegant, slender, black-and-white patterned wading bird with long thin red legs. For me, it was a life bird. I had never seen one before anywhere, and had not known they might be here on Kiawah. A pair were flying up again and again around the Wood Stork and calling, and finally, after five or ten minutes, the stork spread its wings heavily and drifted to a different spot, out of the grass, in an area of open shallow water.

After seeing those first two Black-necked Stilts, we began to see others spread out all through the marsh grass around the pond. They flew up here and there briefly, sometimes flew from place to place, low over the edge of the water, and several stalked out into open areas of mudflat and shallow water, where we were able to see them very well. Their black, white and red coloring caught the eye quickly.

A June 5 report on the Kiawah Island Golf Resort’s website says that Black-necked Stilts are a rare summer visitor to Kiawah. “This year, we are fortunate to have several pairs on our island. In fact, according to our Town Biologists, “the stilts are exhibiting behaviors which lead us to believe they may be nesting.”


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