If ever there was a bird built for wading, it’s the Black-necked Stilt. A common sight in Southern Louisiana is a pond or flooded field with a bunch of these guys wading through water on their long, thin legs. For example, I got the distant shot of the stilt below early one morning as it waded with several others in a crawfish pond. A usual, it was moving away from our vehicle as we parked next to the pond.The next day, we made a late afternoon visit to a different crawfish pond. There we found several Black-necked Stilts walking atop the roadside levee of the pond. These birds seemed less wary of us, and as we crept by in our vehicle, they walked slowly along the levee. For the first time, I was able to photograph stilts from a relatively close distance. Upon seeing these stilts close up and out of the water, I realized their legs are much longer than my photos of them wading in ponds had led me to believe.
Compare the images above and below. In the first photo, at least half of the stilt’s legs is invisible under the water surface. It reminds me somewhat of the iceberg phenomenon.
As the stilts moved through the grass, their motion seemed more of a strut than a walk.
I happened to notice one of the stilts walking in the dried-up ditch between our vehicle and the levee. Leaning out my window and aiming my camera downward a bit, I was able to get a few shots of it. At one point, it just plopped down onto the soil.
I don’t know whether this behavior was due to fear or to something else, but it immediately started getting back up on its spindly legs,
then turned around and started walking in the opposite direction.
If you have an explanation of this behavior, please enter it as a comment below.
The locations from which these photos were taken are shown on the map below. Zoom in for more detail.