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What bird has the longest legs relative to its body length?

The Black-winged Stilt - Himantopus himantopus – is the bird that has the longest legs. It is a widely distributed very long-legged wader. In southern Africa it is common across much of the region. It generally prefers inland and coastal wetlands, such as commercial salt pans, flooded fields, flood plains, papyrus swamps and sewage works.


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. 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.


Black-winged Stilts give a repeated high-pitched “Kek” call and a “Kee-ack” alarm call.


It mainly eats insects, other invertebrates and fish, doing most of its foraging by locating prey visually before plucking them from the water surface, or by immersing its head in the water while locating prey with touch.


The nest is built by both sexes, consisting of a mound of mud usually with incorporated pieces of weed. It is typically placed on damp mud, mats of vegetation or some other structure at the edge of the waterline. Egg-laying season is year-round and the female lays 2 to 5 eggs, which are mainly incubated by the female for about 24 to 27 days. The chicks leave the nest and are capable of self-feeding with 24 hours of hatching. The young can fly in 28 to 32 days and become fully independent between 14 to 28 days later.

Conservation Status – Least Concern

The Black-winged Stilt has a very large range that includes scattered locations in southern and western Europe, central, eastern, and southern Asia, and a great deal of sub-Saharan Africa. Not threatened in Southern Africa.

Bird watching

These striking birds can be seen on the following Aves Birding Tours/Safaris/Adventures: -

Aves Arid Birding Tour/Safari/Adventure.

Aves Highlands / Tembe Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves KZN Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves North East Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves North West Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves Western Cape Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves West Coast Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.


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