The Willet (Tringa semipalmata) is a large shorebird that belongs to the sandpiper family, Scolopacidae. Adults measure about 14-16 inches in length with a wingspan of 26-29 inches. They weigh between 7.5 to 14 ounces. The Willet has a long, straight bill that measures about 2.5 inches in length, which is slightly upturned at the end. Their legs are long and gray, with partially webbed feet, giving them the ability to swim and walk on soft mud.
The Willet is a distinctive bird, with a contrasting black and white pattern on their wings, and a white belly and rump. During breeding season, they have a mottled brownish-gray plumage on their back with dark barring on their wings. In flight, the bird’s wings display a prominent white stripe, which is noticeable from a distance. Their distinctive call is a loud “pill-will-willet.”
The Willet has a wide distribution across North and South America, breeding in the northern parts of the United States and Canada, and wintering in the southern parts of the United States, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. In the fall, they migrate along the Atlantic Coast and Gulf of Mexico, as well as the Pacific Coast, making it a familiar sight for many birdwatchers.
During migration, Willets can be seen foraging on mudflats, tidal pools, and sandy beaches, where they probe the sand with their bill to find small crabs, worms, and other invertebrates. They also feed on small fish and insects. Willets are social birds and can often be found in flocks during migration, and occasionally, they mix with other shorebirds.
In conclusion, the Willet is a large, distinctive shorebird with a long, straight bill and a black and white pattern on its wings. It measures between 14-16 inches in length and weighs between 7.5 to 14 ounces. The Willet breeds in the northern parts of North America and winters in the southern United States, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. During migration, they can be seen along both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, foraging on mudflats and sandy beaches for small invertebrates, fish, and insects.