Through the Looking Glass of Val Lee – Black-winged Stilt or Common Stilt of Spain

Stilt (Black-winged) @ Val Lee

I shot this long, pink-legged ave in southern Spain, at the Fuente de Piedra Lagoon (Fountain of Stone).

Spain in May is quite nice. My husband, Al, loves to place me on a winged metal bird and soar me away to wondrous global scenes of the world. This time, massive wings set us down in Paris and Spain and we also drove to Gibraltar. If you would like to see my slide video of photos with music, you can click here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKRiGLgu4pQ

Fuente de Pedra is a shallow lake, brimming with remarkable birds, and functions as a migrating flyway. It is the place to go in Spain to view migrating birds and stationary.

My video of the bird  grabbing bug-bites at the lake:

When shooting shots and videos of Stilts in water and in flight, a thunderstorm snuck in without me noticing. Al and I had walkie talkies to keep in touch, but I had turned mine off, being the battery was low. Al had tried to SOS me, but it was useless. Finally, when I noticed lightning bolts uncomfortably close, I turned on the WT and spoke to him. I told him to get inside the building and not wait for me. I did not want him struck down dead. I was quite afraid and had to run a distance to get cover in the interpretive center. I tell you, I was praying to the Creator of every one of those electric sky strikes. In tears and in fear I begged Him to preserve me! Needless to say, He did.

Black-winged Stilt @ Val Lee

(Job chapter 37, verses 2-5, teaches mankind regarding the LORD God of the storms, who directs His lighting unto the ends of the earth.  He thunders the heavens with His voice.  The thunderous storms speak of  the excellency of His ways that we cannot comprehend.)

As I drew near the interpretive building, I noticed Al was still outside waiting for me. I once again told him emphatically to “get inside.” (I must say I am not normally in the habit of ordering my husband about ☺)

When I reached the building, Al was still outside waiting, to my deep disappointment! He let me know, he was not going anywhere without me.

After we both entered together, it started to pour rather large hailstones. It was thundering, lightning, hailing and windy—the essential parts for a genuine storm exhibit. The curator was quite surprised by it all, being it was May and warm.

Leaving this rabbit trail and getting back to birding, you may have noted from the video, this winger walks miraculously well with those strong, pink bending stilts. He wades effortlessly through the waters of motion with those wire-like limbs. What man could design such walking stilts? What man could design their perfect feet—partially webbed for such action? They are marvelously designed for their role in the world.

Black-winged Stilt @ Val Lee

Stilts, like most aves, are of the gregarious sort—most friendly within their own species—though they can expose an aggressive temperament at times and will engage in aerial combat for property rights.

They might be noticed feeding in Stilt flocks of several thousand … amazing.

If they are made to feel frightened, they will head-bob. Their call is a sharp “yep” or “kek.” They sometimes perform a high-leaping display with an air floating descent.

Men do not understand these artful performances, but the LORD Jesus Christ created Stilts with agility that marvels the mind.

The Black-winged Stilt or Common Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) is a widely distributed skinny-legged wader in the Avocet and Stilt family (Recurvirostridae). God placed on them extraordinary legs—7 to 9 inches—the longest relative to body size. Ostriches have the longest legs of any bird, though they do no fly. There are four other species of Stilt.

Stilt (Black-winged) @ Val Lee

Adult Stilts are 12-14 inches long. Their wingspan is from 26 to 32 inches. Along with their pink legs, they display a long thin black bill. They are blackish above and white below, with a white head and neck displaying a varying amount of black. Males have a black back, often with greenish gloss. Females reveal a back with a brown hue, contrasting with black remiges (flight feathers).

Males and females are often hard to distinguish. Slight head hue alterations can occur with the seasons. Immature Stilts have grey flight wings instead of black and a sandy hue on the wings, with light feather fringes.

Stilts fly with body fully outstretched. Legs are straight as a board stationed behind tail wings. This flyer represents quite the elongated flight form as seen in my second video, also shot at the lake:

They can be spotted in Europe, Southern North America, Central America, Peru and Brazil, and in the lovely Caribbean. Northernmost populations migrate south in winter. Those of Spain and of other parts of Europe might migrate south to Africa in winter.

These stilted marvels shop for their provisions in sand or water. Their diet mainly consists of insects, fish, crustaceans, worms and seeds. They feed in both salt and fresh water on half-webbed feet that allow them to swim—although this is a rarity.

Stilt (Black-winged) @ Val Lee

God equipped them with day and night vision and day and night alertness. Implementing their remarkable nocturnal vision, these agile, rapid dabblers will feed on a windy, moonless night. I am sure they get some shuteye sometime.

Dating commences in late winter. When a Stilt locates that special someone to mate with for life, they might hug each other … head and body hugging—one head under the other in sweet unity. They demonstrate affection quite well without arms.

Regarding their reproductive biology, Stilts usually breed in colonies of two to 50 pairs. Sometimes with other members of the Avocet family.

By God’s design, all Avocets are faithfully monogamous.

Timing of breeding varies over ranges. They make a nest scraped with mud or plants piled up in a mound near marshes, shallow lakes and ponds. At times, it may be a well-lined, floating mass of water weeds. Females generally lay 3 or 4 eggs. Both father and mother incubate the eggs for 25 days. Fathers will spend more time than the mothers at the nest, mostly building the nest and covering the eggs. They are dutiful dads. Mothers spend more time foraging than the fathers.

During late incubation, moms spend significantly more time at the nest than the dads. After hatching, both parents attend to their young. Fledging (flying) takes place at 28–37 days.

Lifespan is up to 12 years.

Black-winged Stilt @ Val Lee

Various male birds can represent the faithfulness of God for His children—that is born again Christians who have yielded their lives to Jesus Christ of the Bible. If you do not know Jesus Christ personally, you can learn about His personal love for you, and His desire to give you an abundant fulfilled life. please click here: How to get to heaven

*Info gratefully gathered from various web sources.

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