Secret life of birds: Black-necked Stilt lays an egg

8/8/2013 | 1

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Black-necked Stilt ©2013 Ed Mattis

Since we launched the new and improved BirdWatchingDaily.com in late May, Ed Mattis of Coral Springs, Florida, aka snooked, has posted delightful, exceptional photos to our galleries of curious Burrowing Owls, mating Red-shouldered Hawks, fighting Purple Gallinules, a stunning Painted Bunting, and many more.

One of his most surprising images, above, shows a female Black-necked Stilt at the moment she lays an egg. Ed shot the photo on May 10, 2013, and we featured it on page 11 in “Birding Briefs” in our August 2013 issue.

The bird had already laid one egg in her nest at Green Cay Wetlands, a 100-acre nature preserve in Boynton Beach. While Ed shot photos with his Pentax K-5, the stilt “started to squat and came back up several times,” he says. “She got all the way down, then stood up, and there were two eggs. The new egg was a little shiny.”

Later, the bird’s mate returned and inspected the new addition to the nest:

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Black-necked Stilts ©2013 Ed Mattis

When Ed returned a week later, the eggs were gone, likely taken by a hawk, raccoon, or other predator. But other pairs of stilts nested successfully at the preserve, as you can see in this charming photo of an adult with chick in tow:

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Black-necked Stilts ©2013 Ed Mattis

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  • Tony Britton

    Congratulations on this exceptional series of photographs! They’re really fantastic!