stilt, common name for some members of the family Recurvirostridae, shore birds including the avocet. Stilts, as their name implies, have the longest legs of any bird except the flamingo. They frequent open marshes and shallow water, wading with long strides and probing the mud for food with their long, thin bills. They are also good swimmers and fliers. Their floating nests are anchored along the edges of quiet pools. The common black-necked, or pied, stilt, Himantopus mexicanus, an elegant bird with a black back and white belly, is cosmopolitan in temperate and tropical regions. The banded stilt, Cladorhyncus leucocephalus, is found in Australia and Tasmania. Stilts are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Charadriiformes, family Recurvirostridae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.