• Willet (Eastern)

    Common NameWillet (Eastern)
    Scientific NameTringa semipalmata semipalmata
    Type of ReportRare Species
    Date of Observation06/17/2017
    Number Observed2
    Reporting Observer's NameZacheriah Cota-Weaver
    Mailing Address175 Depot Street
    Hyde Park, VT 05655
    United States
    Map It
    EmailEmail hidden; Javascript is required.
    Date Completed07/01/2017
    Latitude of Observation44.991912
    Longitude of Observation-73.1700738
    Place NameCampbell Bay/Mouth of Charcoal Creek
    TownshipWest Swanton
    Vermont eBird Checklist URLebird.org
    Time of Day05:15 PM
    Length of Time Observed45 minutes
    Maximum Estimated Distance from Bird (in feet)60 feet
    Minimum Estimated Distance from Bird (in feet)20 feet
    Noteworthy Weather Conditions

    Impending thunderstorm with light rain beginning.

    Optical Equipment Used for Observation

    Celestron Ultima 22-66x100mm spotting scope, Eagle Optics 8x42 binoculars, Cannon Rebel t3i 75-300mm, iPhone 4 with Phoneskope digiscoping adapter.

    Observer’s Previous Acquaintance With This or Similar Species

    Previously encountered while birding in coastal Massachusetts and Maine.

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

    Sandy and muddy riverbank, as well as short sedge vegetation. At several points seen foraging alongside KILL.

    Behaviors Observed

    Two WILL associating closely with each other. Actively foraging both on sandy shoreline, in muddy puddle, and in short sedge and rush. Spent several minutes bathing next to each other and preening afterwards. At one point a nearby KILL flushed, perhaps from a passing party boat. Both WILL became still and issued several call notes. After a minute they returned to foraging. Observers stayed standing with scopes about 50 feet from where WILL were initially observed. After about 20 minutes of observing, WILL worked there way closer to us while foraging, and came as close as about 20 feet.

    Description of Vocalizations

    Several triplet call notes issued and recorded (see attached).

    Verbal Narrative & Description of Observation

    Went to investigate birds found earlier in the day. Upon arrival, Ted Murin and Qing Ren were present and had been at the site for roughly 30 minutes. They report having arrived just after the birds had flown south, as witnessed by Craig Provost. Within one minute of arriving and talking with Ted and Quing, a bulky Tringa sp. with large white wing stripe flew from the south, up Charcoal Creek and landed at the end of the peninsula. It was readily identified by all as a Willet, and it began foraging along the waters edge. Within five minutes the second bird flew in and began foraging with the first. Both birds were observed together for nearly 45 minutes. Both birds were still present when I left.

    Relative Size & Shape

    Tall and bulky shorebird, nearly twice the size of the nearby KILL.


    Head brown overall with grayish white streaking. Bold white eyering. Dark, unmarked lores. Supraloral contrastingly pale.

    Feet & Bill

    Legs and feet slate gray. Heavy bill with dusky pink at base transitioning to black distally.

    Upper Back

    Dark brown overall with mottled black, gray and white.

    Lower Back & Rump

    Lower back dark brown overall with mottled black, gray and white. White rump.


    Wings black overall with broad, bright white wing stripe. Coverts dark brown.

    Breast, Belly, Flanks, Under Tail Coverts

    Heavy brown mottling extending down the breast and into the flanks. Belly white.


    Tail seen well while preening (see video). Light brown upper tail with distinct horizontal barring.

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

    Western Willet was ruled out using criteria suggested by O' Brien (2006) and Marchant, Prater, & Hayman (1986). Both birds were dark brown overall, versus the gray base often ween in Western Willet. Lacked the dark bill based typically seen in Western Willet. In Western Willet, "central tail feathers are not barred as in nominate race but almost unmarked", (Marchant, Prater, & Hayman, 1986, p. 332). Video of both birds, an stills of those videos, show clear barring across all tail feathers, consistent with Eastern Willet.

    Marchant, J., Prater, T., & Hayman, P. (1986). Shorebirds: An identification guide. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, Co.

    O'Brien, M. (2006). Subspecific identification of the Willet, Catoptrophorus semipalmatus. Birding, 38(3): 40-47. Retrieved from http://www.aba.org/birding/v38n3p40.pdf

    Other Notes & Comments

    Breeding plumaged adults.

    This report was written from notes taken:During the Observation

    More Posts from VCE