Willet

(Tringa semipalmata)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

Willet

 

NatureServe

SXB, SNRM - Presumed Extinct Breeding, Unranked Migrant

Minnesota

not listed

Occurrence

Uncommon to rare migrant

Habitat

Wet fields, marsh edges, lake and pond shorelines

Size

14 to 16 in length

26 wingspan

  Photo by Ramona Abrego
 
Identification

Willet is a large sandpiper. There are two subspecies, Western Willet (Tringa semipalmata inornata) and Eastern Willet (T. s. semipalmata). Western Willet nests in southwestern Canada and western United States. Most winter on the Pacific Coast but a few winter on the Atlantic Coast. In Minnesota the Western Willet is and uncommon migrant from mid-April to mid-May, a rare migrant from July to late September. Eastern Willet is rarely far from the Atlantic Coast. During migration Western Willet is found in wet fields, at the edges of marshes, and on the shores of lakes and ponds. They eat aquatic beetles, spiders, and small fish.

Willet looks like a Lesser Yellowlegs but is larger and plumper. The adult is 14 to 16 in length and has a wingspan of 26. The non-breeding adult is gray above with white underparts and a white rump. The head is large with a narrow white eye ring and a white area above the lores. The bill is heavy, straight, and black. The wings are broad and rounded. The inner half of the wing is gray, the outer half black. There is a broad white stripe from the base of the wing to and around the primary wing coverts. The underside of the wing is entirely black with a broad white stripe. The legs are long and gray.

 
Voice

 

 
Similar
Species

 

 
Food

Aquatic beetles, spiders, and small fish

 
Nesting

Willet does not currently nest in Minnesota, though it has in the past.

 
Migration

Mid-April to mid-May and July to late September

 
Comments

 

 
Taxonomy

Order:

Charadriiformes (shorebirds and relatives)

 

Family:

Scolopacidae (sandpipers)

 

Genus:

Tringa

  Willet was formerly classified as Catoptrophorus semipalmatus, and was the only species in the genus. A molecular DNA study in 2005 showed that the species is closely related to the shanks and should be included with the shanks in the genus Tringa.
 
Subordinate Taxa

Western Willet (Tringa semipalmata inornata)

Eastern Willet (Tringa semipalmata semipalmata)

 
Synonyms

Catoptrophorus semipalmatus

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Lores

Small patches of skin between a bird’s eye and bill, one below each eye.

 

 

 

       
Visitor Photos
   
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Ramona Abrego
       

Single bird feeding in the lake.

  Willet   Willet
       
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
   
       
       

 

Camera

     
Slideshows
   
  Western Willet
JMC Nature Photos
 
  Western Willet  
     

 

slideshow

       
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Other Videos
 
  Call of the Willet (Tringa semipalmata)
Wandering Sole Images
 
   
 
About

Jun 24, 2012

Willet (with breeding plumage) singing near Chaplin, Saskatchewan. Its more elaborate call is at the 0:19 mark on the video.

   
       
  Willet (Tringa semipalmata): Territorial Behaviour
D P Jones
 
   
 
About

Oct 27, 2015

Willet(Tringa semipalmata): Territorial Behaviour, Sou West Nova Scotia, Canada June 2015 dkpjones@hotmail.ca

   
       
  Willet (tringa semipalmata)
Gunther Peeters
 
   
 
About

Nov 22, 2016

location (mangrove Bajo-Alto) south-west Ecuador, province El Oro

   
       

 

Camcorder

         
Visitor Sightings
   
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Ramona Abrego
4/26/2015

Location: Northwestern shore of Gunflint Lake, Grand Marais

Single bird feeding in the lake.

Willet


 
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Created: 7/29/2020

Last Updated:

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