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Black Stilt

The Black Stilt (Himantopus novaezelandiae), is a large wading bird in the avocet and stilt family Recurvirostridae. During the breeding season it is restricted to the upper Waitaki Valley, South Island, New Zealand. Small numbers over winter in the North Island.

Adults are 39 inches long. They have very long red legs, a long thin black bill and black plumage. Juveniles have a white breast, neck and head, with a black patch around the eyes. They breed at the 2-3 years of age.

They are one of the worlds most endangered birds. The current population is estimated at 22 adult birds. Drainage and hydroelectric development has in the past disturbed their braided river bed habitat. Predation from mammalian invasive species, most notably mustelids such as stoats presently poses a serious threat to the species survival. The third major threat to this species is hybridization with the local and more numerous Pied Stilt.

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Black Stilt


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