One look and you instantly know why black-necked stilts have their name. Their body is a striking black and white, and their legs look as thin as toothpicks but can stretch to 10 to 12 inches.
Black-necked stilts are common summer residents in central Kansas, especially in and around the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area and the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. When habitat is right they can also be found nesting on playa lakes well into southwest Kansas.
Despite their thin legs, black-necked stilts are sizable birds. They weigh as much as a bobwhite quail and have 29-inch wingspans.
Black-necked stilts aren’t very tolerant of other animals around their nests and have loud alarm cries. They’re easily recognized in flight as they pull those long, pink legs behind them.
Hatchling black-necked stilts look like little ping-pong ball-sized fuzzballs running around on cocktail straws for legs. They may be the cutest things in the world of Kansas birding.