Banded Stilt Click to enlarge image
Banded Stilt Image: Julie Burgher
creative commons

Fast Facts

  • Classification
  • Size Range
    35 cm to 43 cm
Banded Stilt, Cladorhynchus leucocephalus
Banded Stilt, Cladorhynchus leucocephalus Image: Purnell Collection
© Australian Museum

Banded Stilts are highly gregarious, found in small parties to dense flocks sometimes in thousands, mainly on inland saltmarshes.


The Banded Stilt is a plump-bodied wader, with long orange or pink legs. Adult males and females are similar. The head and body is white with a broad chestnut band across the breast, extending down to the belly. This band fades or even disappears when the birds are not breeding. The wings are black with a conspicuous white trailing edge in flight. The eyes are brown and the black bill slender and straight. Immature stilts do not have black or chestnut on the underparts, the wings are brown and the legs are dull pink. Banded Stilts commonly gather in small parties or large flocks.


Banded Stilts are found mainly in saline and hypersaline (very salty) waters of the inland and coast, typically large, open and shallow.


Banded Stilts are endemic to Australia, mainly in the south and inland.


Banded Stilts are dispersive and movements are complex and often erratic in response to availability of feeding and breeding habitat across the range. Populations may move to the coast or nearby when the arid inland is dry, returning inland to breed after rain or flooding.

Feeding and diet

Banded Stilts feed on crustaceans, molluscs, insects, vegetation, seeds and roots. They are diurnal (feeding by day), dependent on the availability of prey in ephemeral (appear only after flooding or rain) salt lakes. They forage by picking, probing and scything (swinging bill from side to side) on salt lakes, either by wading in shallow water or swimming often some distance from the shore.


Yelping notes 'chowk-chowk', some wheezing calls resembling plaintive whistle.

Breeding behaviours

Banded Stilts breed only in the arid inland when wetlands appear after rain or flooding and not much is known about their breeding habits. They breed on small islands in lakes, occasionally on sand-pits, bare patches of sandy clay or stony soil. The nest is a scrape in the ground, saucer-shaped or like an inverted cone. The nest is occasionally lined with dry grass or stems of samphire.

  • Breeding season: May-December but entirely dependent on suitable conditions
  • Clutch size: One to five, usually three or four.
  • Incubation: 20 days
  • Time in nest: 50 days

Conservation status

An increase in populations of Silver Gulls, associated with human settlement, may be a cause for concern for Banded Stilts.


  • Marchant, S. and Higgins, P.J. (eds) 1993. Handbook of Australian New Zealand And Antartic Birds Vol. 2: (Raptors To Lapwings). Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
  • Schodde, R. and Tideman, S.C. (eds) 1990. Reader's Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds (2nd Edition). Reader's Digest (Australia) Pty Ltd, Sydney.