• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    Register for an account to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Willet - BirdForum Opus

(Redirected from Tringa semipalmata)
"Eastern Willet" T. s. semipalmata, adult breeding plumage
Photo © by bobsofpa
Reeds Beach, New Jersey, USA, 7 June 2011
Tringa semipalmata

Catoptrophorus semipalmatus

Identification

"Western Willet" T. s. inornata, adult breeding plumage
Photo © by Craig Thayer
Chicago, Illinois, USA, 6 May 2011

33-41 cm length, 60-70 cm wingspan, 173-375 g weight.

  • Dark gray upperparts
  • Light underparts
  • White tail with a dark band at the end
  • Wings with grey inner wing, striking black and white stripes on outer wing
  • Gray legs
  • Long, straight, dark and stout bill

Sexes alike. Adults in breeding plumage can usually be identified to subspecies in the field, but winter birds much less readily[7].

Distribution

North America, some wintering south to Chile and Brazil. All populations are migratory, though present all year on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, where breeding T. s. semipalmata move out to be replaced in winter by non-breeding T. s. inornata.

Taxonomy

This species was formerly placed in its own genus Catoptrophorus2,3 but is now moved to Tringa1,4

Subspecies

Adult in flight
Photo by STEFFRO1
Huntington Beach State Park, South Carolina; 7 April 2014

Breeds in North America, wintering south to Peru and Brazil. There are two subspecies[1]:

  • T. s. semipalmata breeds in coastal marshes on the east coast of North America from southeastern Canada to Gulf Coast and the West Indies; winters from the Caribbean south to southern Brazil.
Darker overall in breeding plumage, with breast heavily barred. On average, 10% smaller, but much overlap in size.
Paler overall in breeding plumage, with breast only lightly barred. On average, 10% larger, but much overlap in size.

The two subspecies have been suggested as a potential species split[5], though this is not well supported by genetic evidence[6].

Habitat

Breeds in freshwater marsh habitat, outside of breeding found on tidal beaches and mudflats.

Behaviour

Adult winter plumage
Photo © by gigo
Fort Myers beach, Florida; 15 October 2004

Breeding

Colonial breeders, the ground nest is well hidden in short grass.

Diet

The diet includes insects, crustaceans and marine worms, and some plant material. They forage on mudflats or in shallow water.

Vocalisations

Rather noisy, giving loud “klip” or “kleep” in alarm and a harsh “wee-wee-wee” in flight, but is best known for ringing "Pill-will-willet" in display on breeding grounds.

Juvenile
Photo © by Joseph Morlan
Año Nuevo State Reserve, California; 31 August 2003

References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Christidis et al. 2018. The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World, version 4.1 (Downloadable checklist). Accessed from https://www.howardandmoore.org.
  3. Sibley, CG and BL Monroe. 1996. Birds of the World, on diskette, Windows version 2.0. Charles G. Sibley, Santa Rosa, CA, USA.
  4. Gill, F & D Donsker (Eds). 2018. IOC World Bird List (v8.2). doi : 10.14344/IOC.ML.8.2. Available at http://www.worldbirdnames.org/
  5. Sibley Guides: Guessing the next ten bird splits
  6. Birdforum thread discussing taxonomy of the species
  7. Birdforum thread discussing the identification of Eastern from Western Willet
  8. Lowther, P. E., H. D. Douglas III, and C. L. Gratto-Trevor (2001). Willet (Tringa semipalmata), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (A. F. Poole and F. B. Gill, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bna.579
  9. Van Gils, J., Wiersma, P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2018). Willet (Tringa semipalmata). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/53916 on 22 October 2018).

Recommended Citation

External Links


Top