Tringa Semipalmata – Willet

Tringa Semipalmata - Willet found in most part of the western area in United States

The willet (Tringa semipalmata), originally classified as Catoptrophorus semipalmatus in the monotypic genus Catoptrophorus, is a big shorebird in the family Scolopacidae. It is a reasonably large and robust sandpiper, the largest of the genus Tringa’s “shank” species. Its nearest relative is the lesser yellowlegs, a considerably smaller bird with a completely different look save for the delicate, clear, and dense neck pattern that both species display in breeding plumage.

Quick Overview: Tringa Semipalmata – Willet
Body size: Around 13-16 in (33-41 cm) and a weight of 375 g (13.22 oz)
Main colors: Gray-Brown, White, Gray-Blue, Black
Range: Western United States
Migratory Bird: Yes
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: March, April, May, September, October, November
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Willet Description

It has a grayish-brown head, back, and wings; a white belly; a long, straight black bill; long grayish-blue legs; and conspicuous black and white stripes on its wings.

Tringa Semipalmata - Willet found in most part of the western area in United States
Tringa Semipalmata – Willet. Photo by: Jason Crotty


These birds have a length of 13-16 in (33-41 cm) and a weight of 375 g (13.22 oz). Their wings could range from 61-79 in (24-31 cm).


The willet forages in mudflats, intertidal zones, and shallow marsh waters, snatching food from the water’s surface or probing the mud with its long bill. It frequently wades up to its belly in water in quest of food. Aquatic insects, marine worms, small crabs, small mollusks, and fish are among its prey.


Willets are found on coastal beaches, freshwater and salt marshes, lakeshores, mudflats, and moist plains.


Willets are extremely territorial and will defend their breeding and feeding territories forcefully. When disturbed, the willet will call out with a pill-will-willet pill-will-willet. 

Tringa Semipalmata Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Charadriiformes
  • Family: Scolopacidae
  • Genus: Tringa
  • Species: Tringa semipalmata

Best time of the year to see

In the United States, the best time of year to see these birds are during the Spring season (March-May) and during the Autumn season (September – November).

Distribution of the Willet in the USA

Breeds along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts south of Nova Scotia, from central Canada to northern California and Nevada. Winters along the coasts of Oregon, California, and Mexico, as well as South Carolina and North Carolina.

The Willet can be found in the following states in the United States – Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Tringa Semipalmata – Willet

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