Friday, April 26, 2013

Willet


Fairly common on coastal beaches and marshes, the Willet is a rather stocky, stout billed shorebird in shades of gray to dun.  Wading into depths his long legs can manage, he searchs for aquatic animals, small fish and spiders.  Being able to detect prey with a sensitive bill tip makes feeding both day and night possible.  When brooding eggs, the male usually takes the night shift while the female forages.



Being drab and colorless serves them well when nesting or head-down in the sand. When they take flight though, they transform into slender, sleek showy birds. 


With their boldly striped wings spread out in flight, they become graceful acrobatic flyers...streamlined and curvy.


Although mainly a shoreline bird they are often seen inland, too. There are presently reports of Willets in Green Bay, La Crosse and Waukesha, Wisconsin. A mudflat or marsh would be the best  place to look for them.


Whether flying or resting, males and females look alike.  Even in their breeding season their color transition is only from medium gray to a mottled dun color. 

If you’re lucky and find a flock of Willets, either onshore or inland, have some patience and wait until they rise into the air.  The flock puts on a striking air show.

Allan