The eastern population of the Willet breeds in the salt marshes along our coast in the summer. It’s a large shorebird with a long bill, long legs and a short tail. Unlike the smaller shorebirds, Willets are often alone when they are hunting for crabs, worms and other prey. They are constantly making their “pill-will-willet” song as the males mark their territory. Their song is so common that it is background noise when we are out in the marsh area. They also have piercing calls when startled, angry or defending territory.

Willets are a mottled gray and brown during the summer. Very plain looking.

They will sometimes perch in a high spot near their nest area, including the tops of trees. This one is sitting on a vine covered fence post.

There is a striking transformation when they take to the air. The white and black pattern on the wings is hidden until they do.

I caught these two in a bit of a territorial dispute over a section of the salt pannes.

They are a noisy but welcome summer visitor.

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