Hawaiian Stilts


Hawaiian Stilts are called Ae’o in the native language of Hawaii.


They are maybe the longest legged bird in the world for their size, freakishly long. You have to wonder how they balance on those spindly things. They are an endangered sub-species of the Black-necked Stilt and once were a hunted bird. The Ae’o lives in wetlands, mudflats, and ponds on the major islands of Hawaii, those shown here on Maui. Maui and O‘ahu account for 60-80% of them. When I first saw them, I really was surprised at their numbers in this area considering they are endangered.

They nest on freshly exposed mudflats with low growing vegetation like seen in this post at Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge. The primary cause of the decline of this native water bird has been the loss and degradation of wetland habitat. Introduced predators like dogs, cats, rats, and mongoose have reduced their numbers.


All along the boardwalk at the Refuge are attractive, posted graphics explaining this information and more on all the visiting birds. Below, they talk about the calls this bird makes.


They really are a beautiful bird and we even saw them along roadside, small ocean bays.


Because they are endangered, next on Nature and Wildlife Pics I look at something I believe to be detrimental to migrating birds just beyond the boardwalk area. What do you think it might be? Tell me if you think this is one cool bird. By the way they are looking at their own reflections, I bet they think they are.

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24 Responses to Hawaiian Stilts

  1. Pat says:

    A distinctive-looking bird with those incredibly long pink legs and long black bill. Love the reflections in your photos.

  2. The color of their legs is such a bright pink, and so slender. The last picture is stunning with their reflection.

  3. Lyle Krahn says:

    Very cool bird. Those spindles are wonderful

  4. aussiebirder says:

    I love the way stilts reflect in the water, they are one of my favorite shorebirds. Our Black-winged Stilt is very similar except for the black on the head, they could be mistaken by an untrained eye.

  5. Debra says:

    So beautiful!

  6. I saw birds like this in the South of Spain and think they are beautiful but funny.
    Lovely pictures you made here.

  7. Linda says:

    An absolutely gorgeous and delightful series of photos. Thank you so much for sharing, and warm greetings from a very cold Montreal, Canada. 🙂

  8. bittster says:

    I agree they look distinctive, love the little guys!

  9. A.M.B. says:

    The Ae’o is a beautiful bird. I really like the black/white combination.

  10. I painted an oversized study of the blacknecked stilts, and wow, this is very close.. i thik that the black necked stilt’s legs are a bit darker, and i wondered if this hawaian species has red eyes (like the black.)

    I love these birds, no matter what they’re called – oh, and I was surprised to know that they were hunted – i’m assuming for their meat?

  11. Rachel says:

    Beautiful pictures of a beautiful bird!

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