Black winged Stilt
An article by Ted Park with The Voice Fuerteventura
This bird is very happy being out and about whether it is soaring above us or wading around in the water.
This bird is unmistakable and very striking to look at and, fortunately for us, some have taken up residence here on our island and have bred successfully over the last few years. This globally widespread wading bird is characterised by its extremely long red legs, white stomach and, true to its name, jet black wings. Its distinctive legs make up around 60% of its overall height which provides it with a feeding advantage over the other waders when in deeper waters.
Its diet is variable according to season, but typically comprises of aquatic insects, Molluscs, crustaceans and also spiders, worms, tadpoles, small fish, fish eggs and seeds. Its long legs enable it to wade into deeper water where it can be seen snatching insects that hover above the water’s surface and dipping its head below the waterline to catch small fish or pull small worms out from the mud. It is a migratory bird and will travel over long distances, however, our birds here on Fuerteventura can be seen all year round due to our sub-tropical climate. They can find water and food in a few places here on our island and as long that that does not dry up, hopefully they will stay. They seem to prefer fresh water or slightly-salty wet lands which have sand, mud or clay beds.
The parent team appear to be monogamous and will build their nests in a depression in the ground or on a floating mass of vegetation. There the female will lay four eggs with an incubation period of twenty-five days. The chicks will fledge four weeks after hatching and become independent after another four weeks. Their usual sound that they make is a “ke-yak,” however they also are very nervous birds and will take flight and emit a very high pitched alarm call of “kik-kik-kik-kik-kik-kik” when danger approaches. They are especially wary of humans, so absolute silence is required when approaching their watering grounds.
WHERE TO FIND THEM
The best place is at the reservoir at the rear of the large dam at Las Parcellas (CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS : Zone 3) where other wading birds such as Ruddy ducks, Coots, Green shanks, Grey heron, small egrets and other migratory birds can also be seen. This area is unique, so to all new birders visiting this island please treat it with respect or the council may fence it off. Please take only photographs and leave only footprints!