Hawaii’s Own Black – Necked Stilt

While enjoying a delicious shrimp lunch on our Ultimate Circle Island tour, North Shore and Circle Island Tour or North Shore Birding Adventure, guests can sometimes see the endangered Hawaiian Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus knudseni). This unique, endemic subspecies of the North and South American Black-necked Stilt has only a small population remaining in the islands.  In 1887, this subspecies was named in honor of Valdemar Knudsen who was an early collector of birds in the Hawaiian Islands including the type specimen of the Hawaiian Black-necked Stilt.


The stilts were hunted until the 1940’s and after hunting was prohibited the population began to increase to earlier levels.  Today 1,200-2,000 birds exist in the Hawaiian Islands.  They differ from their mainland counterparts by having more black on their face and neck, and a longer bill, tarsus, and tail.

(Citation: Pyle, R.L., and P. Pyle, 2017. The Birds of the Hawaiian Islands: Occurrence, History, Distribution, and Status.  B.P. Bishop Museum, Honolulu, HI, U.S.A. Version 2 [1 January 2017])