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Pied Stilt; Poaka (Himantopus leucocephalus)



The pied stilt can be seen on the mudflats at the estuary or further up the river in gravelled areas. It's usually seen wading through the water near the edge or roosting up at the edge of the mudflats. It is more common in winter, when birds that went inland to breed return to the coast.

The pied stilt is a slender black and white wader that stalks through the water on long, stilt-like red legs. The long, slim beak is black. The amount of black on the head is variable, but the back, wings, and tail are all black. The underparts and most of the head are white. The eye is red.


The pied stilt's prey consists of water insects and crustaceans, taken from the water or the mud. When wading through the water, it may take food from the surface or put its head underwater. On the mudflats it probes or scythes soft mud with its beak. Pied stilts are usually seen in groups, and also breed in small colonies. The bird has a distinctive yapping call. In flight, its red legs trail behind it.

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