[tn-bird] Black-necked Stilts / 20 year Anniversary

  • From: OLCOOT1@xxxxxxx
  • To: tn-bird@xxxxxxxxxxxxx, ARBIRD-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx,albirds@xxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 4 Jul 2002 20:43:14 EDT

July 4, 2002
Ensley Bottoms
Shelby Co. TN

It was July 4, 1982, the temperature was near 100 degrees and I had been 
watching a pair of Black-necked Stilts working in and out of the dense cover. 
They had been seen for almost a month at the pits and had been real touchy 
that last week. There at the base of some weeds was a movement and suddenly a 
very tiny fuzzy chick came into focus. Tennessee had its first Black-necked 
chick. From there the story only grows and grows.

I had told Ben Coffey that I believed the birds were nesting by the way they 
were acting and I was going to out sit them that hot day. I had started early 
in the morning and had thought about giving up more than once. I could hardly 
contain my elation as I hurried to call Ben and Lula with the news. This was 
only the beginning of many days over the next 20 years, that I would sweat 
puddles in July and August while watching the shorebird events at Ensley. I 
would not give up any of the long waits for the wondrous things I've been 
privileged to see over those years. It still calls and I still go.

Today 20 years later, after casing the area, I set up my scope and in one 360 
degree sweep counted 211 Black-necked Stilts and then added another 22 that 
could not be viewed from that point. I'm sure I missed even more small young 
and others hidden in the weeds. There were Black-necked Stilts of all sizes 
plus 29 nests with clutches of eggs and another 3 nests just under 
construction. At this rate, well over 300 Black-necked Stilts will grace the 
pits at some time over the next few weeks. Some of the early hatches may 
stray away before then but it will be interesting to watch. These numbers 
double and could come close to tripling the previous high numbers in 

I spent a lot of time today going back to watch one nest. I photographed the 
progress, at first there was one chick, then at 10:50 AM, two and at 2:58 PM, 
three and there is where it stood at 4:30 when I left. It will be interesting 
to see if the last egg hatches by tomorrow morning. Most stilt eggs hatch in 
the morning hours but I've seen a few clutches take all day and one pair 
hatched 3 eggs one morning and the last egg at 9 AM the next day. With the 
scope I was able to get up close and personal photos of my 20th year chicks 
even at a distance and with heat shimmers; needless to say these kids are the 
cutest yet!

I've got a few pictures to show if you are interested drop me a 

Proud on the Fourth of July

:o) ;o) ;o) ;o) ;o) ;o) ;o) ;o) ;o)                            (o; (o; (o; 
(o; (o; (o; (o; (o; (o; (o;  

Good Birding!!!

Jeff R. Wilson
Bartlett Tenn.

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