Banded Stilt

Habitat: Coastal, Island, Marine, Wetland, Salt Lake

Banded Stilts are found mainly in saline and hypersaline (very salty) waters of the inland and coast, typically large, open and shallow.

One of our most gregarious endemic waterbirds, the Banded Stilt sometimes forms vast flocks that comprise hundreds of thousands of birds, yet, for the most part, their breeding sites have remained a closely guarded secret, as few colonies have ever been recorded. Sometimes the first sign that they have bred nearby is when crèches of fluffy chicks are found, sometimes far from the nearest wetland. In 2010, a breeding colony comprising 150,000 stilts was discovered at remote Lake Torrens — just the seventh such record in eastern Australia. Banded Stilts are dispersive and movements are complex and often erratic in response to the availability of feeding and breeding habitat across the range. Populations may move to the coast or nearby when the arid inland is dry, returning inland to breed after rain or flooding.

Banded Stilts feed on crustaceans, molluscs, insects, vegetation, seeds and roots. They are diurnal (feeding by day), dependent on the availability of prey in ephemeral (appear only after flooding or rain) salt lakes. They forage by picking, probing and scything (swinging bill from side to side) on salt lakes, either by wading in shallow water or swimming often some distance from the shore.

Banded Stilts breed only in the arid inland when wetlands appear after rain or flooding and not much is known about their breeding habits. They breed on small islands in lakes, occasionally on sand-pits, bare patches of sandy clay or stony soil. The nest is a scrape in the ground, saucer-shaped or like an inverted cone. The nest is occasionally lined with dry grass or stems of samphire. Clutch size is 1 to 5 (usually 3 or 4). Incubation is 20 days and the nestling period is 50 days.