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Jeff Wilson | profile | all galleries >> Black-necked Stilt - South American subspecies nesting in TN. ? Now Mystery Possibly Solved by Alvaro Jaramillo tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Black-necked Stilt - South American subspecies nesting in TN. ? Now Mystery Possibly Solved by Alvaro Jaramillo

Black-necked Stilts (Himantopus mexicanus) have been nesting at Ensley Bottoms, in Memphis since the spring of 1982 when I found the first young hatchling one hot July day.

http://www.pbase.com/ol_coot/blacknecked_stilt

The following photos are of a female Black-necked Stilt of the South American subspecies "melanurus" which breeds from Brazil and Peru, south. The northern subspecies "mexicanus" breeds in North America, south to northern Brazil and Peru and occasionally interbreeds with "melanurus". This bird appears to be a female "melanurus" and is paired and presently tending a nest with a "mexicanus" male. It will be interesting to see what the chicks look like:o)
I had seen the subspecies "melanurus" in South America and when I found this bird needless to say I had a start. I searched the net and read what info I had in my shorebird book collection and found this bird almost perfectly marked for this subspecies. The head markings are described as variable on these birds and the bird showed no other marking that would lead me to any other conclusions but.......

Thanks to Alvaro Jaramillo, who has studied these birds in South America and is of the belief that they may be candidates for a split, because they have a distinctively different call from "mexicanus". I sat with these birds on 3 trips down to the pits and during that time, I heard the male give typical "mexicanus" alarm calls and I also heard the female give some very low grunting calls that sounded a little different. I have not been able to find a recording of melanurus.

Finally on the third watch, a flock of Starlings landed too close to the nest and both adults went bananas, and both gave calls I would call typical for "mexicanus". There is a slight difference between male and female calls in tone that I am able to hear and point out in the field but nothing as distinct as Alvaro described.

Therefore, this bird is probably just a uniquely marked "mexicanus" rather than a "melanurus" by call. Thanks to Alvaro for the information on calls for identification.

Now I have photos of a male Black-necked Stilt, displaying and attempting to mate with an inanimate object. I've witness this before but finally had the camera ready and I'll post them soon.
Black-necked Stilt - melanurus - Ensley  - 6-10-08
Black-necked Stilt - melanurus - Ensley - 6-10-08
Black-necked Stilt - melanurus - Ensley  - 6-10-08
Black-necked Stilt - melanurus - Ensley - 6-10-08
Black-necked Stilt - melanurus - Ensley  - 6-10-08
Black-necked Stilt - melanurus - Ensley - 6-10-08
Black-necked Stilt - melanurus - Ensley  - 6-10-08
Black-necked Stilt - melanurus - Ensley - 6-10-08
Black-necked Stilt - possible melanurus at nest.
Black-necked Stilt - possible melanurus at nest.
Black-necked Stilt - melanurus - mexicanus at nest.
Black-necked Stilt - melanurus - mexicanus at nest.
Black-necked Stilt - melanurus -mexicanus male on nest
Black-necked Stilt - melanurus -mexicanus male on nest