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Stilts and Avocets

Species Of Stilts And Avocets

The American avocet (Recurvirostra americana) is a chestnut-headed bird with a white body and black wings. This species is relatively abundant, and breeds on the shores of shallow lakes and marshes in the western United States and adjacent parts of Canada. The black-necked stilt (Himantopus mexicanus) is more southwestern in its distribution in the United States. Both of these species are migratory, mostly spending the winter months in Central America.

The Hawaiian stilt or ae'o (Himantopus mexicanus knudseni) is a distinct subspecies of the black-necked stilt that breeds in wetlands in the Hawaiian Islands. Fewer than 1,000 pairs of this bird remain. The subspecies is considered to be endangered, mostly by the loss of its wetland habitat through conversion to agricultural uses or for residential or tourism development.

The pied or black-winged stilt (Himantopus himantopus) is a very wide-ranging species, occurring in suitable habitat in Eurasia, Africa, Southeast Asia, and Australia. The black-winged stilt (Himantopus melanurus) of South America is closely related to the previous species. The banded stilt (Cladorhynchus leucocephalus) occurs in Australia.

The avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta) occurs in parts of Eurasia and Africa. Australia has a red-necked avocet (R. novaehollandiae), while the Andean avocet (R. andina) occurs in montane habitats of South America.

The ibisbill (Ibidorhyncha struthersii) occurs in the mountain zone of the Himalayan Mountains of south Asia.

Most ornithologists believe that the family Recurvirostridae is not a very natural grouping of birds. The several species of avocets are obviously closely related to each other, as are the various stilts. However, the ibisbill does not seem to be closely related to the stilts and avocets, and may eventually be assigned to a separate family.



Forshaw, Joseph. Encyclopedia of Birds. New York: Academic Press, 1998.

Bill Freedman

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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Spectroscopy to Stoma (pl. stomata)Stilts and Avocets - Species of stilts and avocets