Wild thing Wednesday is taking big strides with the black-necked stilt. The name stilt is an excellent choice for those long, slender legs. Although they are not the longest overall legs in the Marsh, only one other bird in the world has longer legs relative to their body size. Black-necked stilts are shorebirds whose preferred habitat is marshes with large areas of mudflat and plentiful shallow water for foraging in. Their bright white and black coloration stands out from a long distance, making up for the fact that it is often extremely difficult to get near one simply because of where they prefer to forage. Black-necked stilts are not picky eaters, and will happily consume just about any invertebrate, minnow, or tadpole they can find. Black-necked stilts are found across large parts of central and south America, as well as the southernmost United States year-round, but will travel as far north as Montana for the nesting season. These birds were once considered to be a rarity in Wisconsin, but in the last ten years have become regular though uncommon summer residents in Horicon Marsh, with the many wide-open pools providing good places for them to nest on floating vegetation. If you hope to find one, be sure to pack binoculars, as most of our viewing opportunities will be from a distance.
Photo Credit: Jack Bartholmai