• Willet (Eastern)

    Common NameWillet (Eastern)
    Scientific NameCatoptrophorus semipalmatus semipalmatus
    Type of ReportRare Species
    Date of Observation06/17/2017
    • Other Documentation of Observation
    • Other Documentation of Observation
    • Other Documentation of Observation
    • Other Documentation of Observation
    • Other Documentation of Observation
    • Other Documentation of Observation
    • Other Documentation of Observation
    Number Observed2
    Reporting Observer's NameCraig Provost
    Mailing AddressP.O. Box 1241
    Stowe, VT 05672
    United States
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    EmailEmail hidden; Javascript is required.
    Date Completed06/20/2017
    Names & Emails of Other Contributing Observers

    No other observers present. Others were present prior and after that did see and photograph these birds.

    Latitude of Observation44.989637
    Longitude of Observation-73.168217
    Place NameCampbell Bay/Mouth of Charcoal Creek
    Vermont eBird Checklist URLebird.org
    Time of Day03:25 PM
    Length of Time Observed25 minutes
    Maximum Estimated Distance from Bird (in feet)100
    Minimum Estimated Distance from Bird (in feet)25
    Noteworthy Weather Conditions

    Partly cloudy; winds from the south. Suspect the strong southerly winds the past two days likely contributed to these birds arriving.

    Optical Equipment Used for Observation

    Kowa Genesis 10x40 binoculars
    Nikon D7100 camera with 18-140mm zoom lens

    Observer’s Previous Acquaintance With This or Similar Species

    Have seen Willet once previously in Vermont; identified as Western race. Have seen Willet (Eastern) numerous times along the Atlantic coast. Have seen Willet (Western) multiple times along the Pacific Coast in California; spring and fall.

    I certify that that attachments included with this report were captured during this observation event​​.
    Description of Habitat

    Sand spit at mouth of estuary/creek emptying into Lake Champlain. Sedge/grasses on the edges mostly on the spit along the lakeside. Sandy gravel on the inside of the spit (south side).

    Behaviors Observed

    Birds first observed flying in from the south very low over the water. White marks apparent on the leading edges of the primaries, roughly in the middle, bordered by black. Birds circled in to land near the end of the spit providing a quick visual of the black and white underwing pattern. They foraged along the shore at the end, at one point 1 bird was out of sight, but eventually both moved towards my location seated on an old dilapidated dock. They foraged on the gravel shore and out into the water, progressively getting close enough for naked eye observation. Eventually they worked back out towards the tip of the spit. A fishing boat passed by close to the grassy area which spooked two Killdeer into flight whose cries spooked the Willets into flight. They flew southward again low over the water until out of sight.

    Description of Vocalizations

    None noted.

    Verbal Narrative & Description of Observation

    Comments describing what was observed appear in other sections of this report.

    Relative Size & Shape

    Only shorebirds visible for most of the observation time. Dwarfed a Killdeer that flew in at one point.


    Head largely streaked/mottled with dark grayish brown markings. Eye dark with thin white ring. Subtle light line in front of and slightly above eye to the upper beak with a dark smudge below. Dark streaking down throat onto the upper breast.

    Feet & Bill

    Feet and relatively long legs grey. Outer part of beak dark becoming progressively greyish closer to the face. Heavy bill straight to the tip.

    Upper Back

    Mottled with larger dark barring on middle of back up to the bottom of the nape. SEE PICTURE 7.

    Lower Back & Rump

    Lower back not completely seen due to folded wings, although mottling along upper back continued down onto the top of the lower back that was visible.


    Limited viewing while in flight but observed white stripe bordered by black on the upper and lower wings. At rest or while moving on the ground, only the dark wingtips visible. Secondaries and coverts while birds were on the ground showed mottling similar to the back but with less dark markings. Virtually no wingtip projection noticed beyond the tip of the tail.

    Breast, Belly, Flanks, Under Tail Coverts

    Upper breast down to belly heavily barred becoming more limited down to the white lower belly. Flanks showed consistent barring. Undertail white. SEE PICTURE 6.


    Short tail with barring evident from tip well up toward the base along the edges. Tail extension appeared basically equal to the wingtip projection. SEE PICTURES 3 and 4.

    IMPORTANT: What similar species were eliminated when making the identification and how was this bird different?

    Leg color and overall size rule out either Yellowlegs specie. Heavy straight bill with no upturn, dark overall but lighter grayish closer to the gape, and lack of any hint or shade of rufous on the breast rules out most godwit species. The extent of white viewed on the underwing also rules out godwits which show varying amounts of white depending on the specie, with only Black-Tailed having extensive white with thin black borders on only the underwing.

    Separation of the races Eastern and Western is best accomplished when the birds are in breeding plumage. In breeding plumage, Western is lighter overall with limited marking on the greyish back and faint streaking on the grey head and neck, limited to sparse marking on the breast and only indistinct marking along the flanks if any. In addition, Western lacks barring on the tail. Western's bill is longer and also shows a slight upturn toward the end.

    Other Notes & Comments

    Sex not determined. Both birds were in adult breeding plumage. One appeared only slightly larger than the other.

    This report was written from notes taken:Immediately After

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