Black-necked Stilts on Ballona Creek
Today, I went for a bike ride along Ballona Creek. There is a bike path along the concrete creek. It runs from the beach at Playa del Rey about 6 miles inland to a park in Culver City. We live halfway between the beach and the end of the path. Instead of heading from my house toward the beach, which is my usual path, I went inland. There’s rarely a lot of bird ac
tion on this section of the creek. It is almost entirely devoid of dirt, mud, or vegetation, so there isn’t much to attract the birds other than a drink. One section has had Solitary Sandpipers during fall migration, and there are often a handful of Greater Yellowlegs and Killdeer around. Besides the Northern Rough-winged Swallows, the predominate bird on this section of the creek is Black-necked Stilt.
Black-necked Stilts breed on the creek. On my ride today, I saw at least 16 juvenile birds, ranging in age from a week or so to approximately 8-10 weeks. It was pretty fun to be able to see the development of Black-necked Stilts in one short bike ride. As you can see from the picture at the top of the page, they are mostly legs at first, and a speckled white color. But as they grow, the black feathers come in. Before they get jet black feathers, though, their backs and wing feather have a rusty fringe.
As development proceeds, they retain a white arc above the eye. The legs just keep growing, and slowly evolve into the pink stilts of adult birds.