Three black-necked stilts were unexpected visitors on 3 May 2013 at Limberlost on the
north side Co Rd 1200S. This was a first record of these shorebirds in Adams County. In
2011, two black-necked stilts were seen at Eagle Marsh in Allen County.
They are typically found on Florida and California coast lines and western interior
wetlands. But, since the early 1980s, the species has been expanding its breeding range
northward. Tennessee saw its first nesting pair in 1983 and Indiana saw its first in 2001.
The first nesting record in Indiana was confirmed by Don Gorney, Lee Casebere, and Lee
Sterrenburg. It was in Sullivan County. The species now regularly nests at two places
in southwest Indiana and occasionally elsewhere, much like the cardinal’s northward
movement documented over one-hundred years ago, it may be just a matter of time
before they begin nesting locally.
The bird is striking in appearance with contrasting black upperparts and white
underparts. It has a long, thin bill, red eyes with white eye-rings and long red pink legs.
They were close to the road and very cooperative allowing Barb Gorney and myself to
view them. Several other people got to see these special visitors in the late afternoon and
evening, including Bill and Sherry Hubbard, Randy Lehman, Curt Burnette, and Willy
DeSmet. Willy, Bill and Curt took some nice photographs of the stilts. Even though this
was a short visit we hope that this is just the first visit and they will chose to become
summer residents of the area.
One can imagine how delighted Gene Stratton-Porter would be to know that Limberlost
habitat restoration encouraged these beautiful and regal birds to visit Limberlost. This is
an example of “build it and they will come” or in this case “rebuild it” and they will find
it. The black-necked stilts were not the only shorebirds seen the first week in May, others
included greater and lesser yellowlegs, and solitary, pectoral, and spotted sandpipers.