Boreal Birds
300+ species, billions of birds rely on Canada's boreal forest as critical breeding grounds
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Willet

Willet
Tringa semipalmata
Sandpiper-like Birds | Family: Sandpipers, Scolopacidae

An estimated 6% of the species' North American breeding range lies within the Boreal Forest.

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Overview

Willets look quite nondescript on the ground and superficially resemble yellowlegs, but once in flight or even with wings spread out, they are distinguished by their striking black-and-white color pattern. They separate when feeding but remain in loose contact. If one bird takes flight, all the others will join it; the birds usually fly together, calling back and forth, before dropping down farther along the beach.

Description

15" (38 cm). A large shorebird, gray-brown, with a long straight bill. Best identified in flight by its flashy black and white wing pattern. Gray legs and thicker bill distinguish it from Greater Yellowlegs.

Voice

A loud ringing pill-will-willet and a quieter kuk-kuk-kuk-kuk-kuk.

Nesting

4 olive-buff eggs, spotted with brown, in a nest lined with weeds or bits of shell placed in a depression on open ground or in a grass clump.

Habitat

Coastal beaches, freshwater and salt marshes, lakeshores, and wet prairies.

Range/Migration

Breeds from central Canada to northeastern California and Nevada; also along Atlantic and Gulf coasts south from Nova Scotia. Winters along coasts from Oregon and Carolinas southward.