Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the June 14, 2015 Newsletter issued from Río Lagartos, on the north-central coast of Yucatán, MÉXICO

We've already looked at Black-necked Stilts {below}. However the other morning one walked by so gracefully and prettily reflected in the calm salt-marsh water that I just had to photograph him, as shown below:


from the January 19, 2009 Newsletter issued from near Telchac Pueblo near the north-central coast of Yucatán, MÉXICO

At dawn the next morning yet another visual essay in grace greeted me at the water's edge. Three Black-necked Stilts, HIMANTOPUS MEXICANUS, advanced across mirroring shallow water so prettily I almost forgot to snap a picture, but I did take one, and you can see below:

Black- necked Stilts, HIMANTOPUS MEXICANUS

Stilts with their neat tuxedo plumage, thin straight bill, little white eyebrows on black faces, and those surprising red legs put one in mind of organisms in coral reefs: Seeing them, you wonder why and how Nature came up with such a satisfyingly elegant design; whether a plainer design might not have sufficed for a being whose main job is to probe into the muck for worms and such, and whose call is a monotonous series of piping notes. Seeing Black-necked Stilts, you understand that Nature has an impulse for style, you don't understand why, but you're glad She does.

Field guides often show Black-necked Stilts with slightly upturned bills, but you can see that our birds' bills are straight as needles. I've observed individual stilts whose bills did bend upward a little, but straight ones are much more common.

Here Black-necked Stilts are permanent residents. In the US they occur along the Gulf Coast and much of the Pacific Coast, expanding northward during the summer, and inland through much of the US Southwest. They extend southward to southern South America.