Black stilt

One of the world’s rarest birds, with less than 200 individuals remaining in the wild

Dick Veitch – Department of Conservation

New Zealand’s black stilt or kak (Mori) is a wading bird. With just 169 adults left in the wild as of May 2020, it is one of the world’s rarest birds. Adult kaks have a long narrow black beak, long pink legs, and striking black plumage. Introduced feral cats, ferrets, hedgehogs, habitat degradation from hydropower dams, agriculture, and invasive vegetation are all threats to black stilts in the Mackenzie Basin of the South Island.

Despite decades of active conservation, the black stilt is still one of the rarest wading bird species and one of the world’s most endangered birds. In the 1940s, the population was estimated to be between 500 and 1000 birds.


Population est.
New Zealand
Official estimate

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic / Monomorphic (size)

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No