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File:Black-necked Stilt.png
The Hawaiian Stilt is variously called Himantopus himantopus knudseni, H. mexicanus knudseni or H. knudseni
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Clade: Aequorlitornithes
Order: Charadriiformes
Suborder: Charadrii
Family: Recurvirostridae
Bonaparte, 1854

Recurve-billed waders, or Recurvirostridae are a family of cosmopolitan wetland birds in the wader suborder Charadrii.

It contains two distinct groups of birds, the avocets (one genus) and the stilts (two genera).

Description and diet[]

Avocets and stilts range in length from 30 to 46 centimetres (12 to 18 in) and in weight from 140 to 435 grams (4.9 to 15.3 oz); males are usually slightly bigger than females.[1] All possess long, thin legs, necks, and bills. The bills of avocets are curved upwards, and are swept from side to side when the bird is feeding in the brackish or saline wetlands they prefer. The bills of stilts, in contrast, are straight. The front toes are webbed, partially in most stilts, fully in avocets and the Banded Stilt, which swim more.[1] The majority of species' plumage has contrasting areas of black and white, with some species having patches of buff or brown on the head or chest.[2] The sexes are similar.[1]

Their vocalizations are usually yelps of one or two syllables.[1]

These species feed on small aquatic animals such as mollusks, brine shrimp and other crustaceans, larval insects, segmented worms, tadpoles, and small fish.


Avocets and stilts are a cosmopolitan family, being distributed on all the world's continents except Antarctica, and occurring on several oceanic islands. There are several wide-ranging species and a few locally distributed species.

One species, the Black Stilt of New Zealand, is critically endangered due to habitat loss, introduced predators and hybridisation with the Pied Stilt.


Stilts and avocets breed on open ground near water, often in loose colonies. They defend nesting territories vigorously with aggressive displays and mob intruders and possible predators with a great deal of noise.[1] They are monogamous, although the pair bonds are not maintained from season to season. Their eggs are light-coloured with dark markings, weighing 22 to 44 grams (0.78 to 1.55 oz).[1] Three to four are laid in simple nests, and both parents share the incubation duties, which last 22 to 28 days.[1] The Banded Stilt may breed only every couple of years, as it breeds on temporary lakes caused by rains in the deserts of Australia. The chicks are downy and precocial, leaving the nest within a day of hatching;[1] they fledge in 28 to 35 days.[1] In all species except the Banded Stilt, the chicks are cared for several months by the parents, which may move them to new areas and defend territories there;[1] Banded Stilts deviate from this by collecting their chicks in massive crèches numbering several hundred.


File:Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) in Hyderabad, AP W IMG 2377.jpg

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus in Andhra Pradesh, India.

The taxonomy of the stilts is particularly debated, with the genus Himantopus considered to have two to six species.

FAMILY: RECURVIROSTRIDAE Order based on Raty's comments and analysis on BirdForum, implying that the Banded Stilt may be an avocet.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Baker, Allan J.; Thomas, Gareth (2003). "Avocets and Stilts". In Perrins, Christopher. The Firefly Encyclopedia of Birds. Firefly Books. pp. 242–243. ISBN 1-55297-777-3.  Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthors= (help)
  2. ^ Harrison, Colin J.O. (1991). Forshaw, Joseph, ed. Encyclopaedia of Animals: Birds. London: Merehurst Press. p. 107. ISBN 1-85391-186-0. 

Sterna diversity This article is part of Project Bird Families, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on each bird family, including made-up families.
Hemipus picatus This article is part of Project Bird Taxonomy, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on every order, family and other taxonomic rank related to birds.
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