Ornis Hungarica. vol.27(2). (2019) p.1-19.
Breeding, dispersal, migration and conservation of the Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) in Hungary
The Black-winged Stilt was the bird of the year in Hungary in 2019. The population of the species increased from 20–25 breeding pairs to 550–680 pairs from 1980s to the present. 75–85% of the Hungarian population bred on effluent pools for pigs and settling pools at sugar beet factories in the first half of 1990s. There were significantly more breeding pairs in Hungary in 1999 compared to previous years, and finally 871 breeding pairs of Black-winged Stilts were documented in 2000 and the Hungarian population was estimated at 940–960 pairs. There were 550–680 breeding pairs in Hungary between 2015 and 2017. Significantly more clutches had more than five eggs in the sampled colonies during the influx in 2000 than in the egg collections before 1971 or in the sampled colony in 2008 as well. First arrivals reached Hungary between 5 and 20 March (median: 15 March) between 2005 and 2019. These arrival dates fall approximately a month earlier than the former arrival dates in mid-April during the 1980s. 470 Black-winged Stilts were observed in a single flock during post-breeding dispersal, this flock was the largest ever documented in Hungary. Stilts left Hungary by the first half of September in the 1980s, and in contrast, they left Hungary between 27 August and 4 January (median: 19 October) between 2005 and 2019. Recently, the most departure dates fall one and a half to three months later compared to the departure dates in the 1980s. Black-winged Stilts marked in Hungary disperse in the Carpathian Basin during their post-fledging/post-breeding dispersal. Based on ring readings of two individuals, they start to migrate southwest with stopover sites in Italy, but their wintering areas are unknown. Stilts hatched in Portugal (one individual) and France (two individuals) bred in Hungary during the large influxes in 1999 and 2000. Five Black-winged Stilts hatched in Italy were observed later in Hungary and are supposed to be breeders in Hungary in most cases. Furthermore, one individual captured as an adult in Spain and two trapped in Italy were observed in Hungary. The Hungarian population of Black-winged Stilt is threatened by predation on eggs and chicks, drainage of wetlands, and also by human-induced flooding of artificial wetlands (e.g. fishponds). Stilts regularly occupy artificial breeding islands the first years after habitat restoration. The Hungarian population of Black-winged Stilts is increasing due to habitat management with grazing animals, especially with Mangalica ‘Woolly’ Pigs and Water Buffalos.