Tringa semipalmata

Summary 6

The Willet (Tringa semipalmata), formerly in the monotypic genus Catoptrophorus as Catoptrophorus semipalmatus, is a large shorebird in the sandpiper family. It is a good-sized and stout scolopacid, the largest of the shanks. Its closest relative is the Lesser Yellowlegs, a much smaller bird with a very different appearance apart from the fine, clear, and dense pattern of the neck, which both species show in breeding plumage.

Tringa semipalmata 7

An extremely large (14-17 inches) sandpiper, the Willet in summer is most easily identified by its mottled gray back and wings, streaked breast, black-and-white wings, and dull bluish legs. In winter, this species becomes slightly duller-plumaged overall. This species may be separated from the related Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) by that species’ smaller size. Male and female Willets are similar to one another in all seasons. The Willet breeds in a few widely-separated regions in the New World, including the northern Great Plains and interior west, the Atlantic coast of North America, the U.S.Gulf coast, and the West Indies. In winter, northern and interior populations migrate south to the Pacific coast from California south to Chile, the southeastern U.S., and the Caribbean coasts of Central and South America. More southerly populations, particularly those in the West Indies, are non-migratory. Willets breeding in the interior of North America primarily breed on wet grasslands, while those breeding along the coast primarily breed in coastal saltwater marshes. In winter and on migration, this species may be found in a number of wetland habitats, including freshwater or saltwater marshes, mudflats, and estuaries. Willets mainly eat invertebrates, including insects, aquatic worms, and mollusks, and will sometimes also eat small fish. In appropriate habitat, Willets may be seen probing the mud for food with its bill while walking on mudflats or wading in shallow water. Individuals may also be seen flying over grasses or open water, when this species’ heavily-patterned wings are easily observed. Willets are primarily active during the day.

Threat Status: Least concern

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) Jerry Oldenettel, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), http://www.flickr.com/photos/7457894@N04/2815659591
  2. (c) Blake Matheson, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC), http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2427/3550982036_2469b418f0.jpg
  3. (c) Blake Matheson, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC), http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3298/3216738719_cc8f27f9af_o.jpg
  4. (c) Dick Daniels (http://carolinabirds.org/), some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0e/Willet_%28Tringa_semipalmata%29_RWD1.jpg
  5. (c) Dick Daniels (http://carolinabirds.org/), some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/04/Willet_%28Tringa_semipalmata%29_RWD2.jpg
  6. (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tringa_semipalmata
  7. (c) Unknown, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), http://eol.org/data_objects/22710216

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