Featured Image Credit: Aquarium of the Pacific
Late in June, Aquarium of the Pacific welcomed two baby black-necked stilts in the Shorebird Sanctuary exhibit. The shorebirds mother, Gigi, has lived in the exhibit since it first opened in 2002, but this was the first year she has ever laid eggs and hatched chicks. The chicks father, George, arrived at the aquarium in 2015. The two babies are now on public view in the exhibit with both mother and father.
Female black-netted stilts lay dark-spotted, buff colored eggs that are about 1.7 inches long. Both mother and father take turns incubating the eggs for 22-26 days until they hatch. The chicks eyes are open at birth, and leave the nest shortly after hatching, about two hours. Their feathers are light brownish-gray with black spots.
When adults give “alarm calls,” the chicks scatter and lay flat on the ground, their camouflage coloring blends in well with the ground and their surroundings. Chicks fledge in about 28-32 days, but until that stage they are extremely delicate and may not always survive.
These shorebirds can be found in and around shallow brackish and freshwater estuaries and marshes, marginal wetland areas, shallow lake shores, coastal bays, praise ponds, and flooded fields. Typically, they are migratory birds and don’t stay in the same place for too long. But there are some resident populations in coastal Southern California and western Mexico.