The Willet (Tringa semipalmata) is a large shorebird in the sandpiper family. The Willet bird is a rarity in the Galapagos, however when sighted it presents a much paler plumage than those on other latitudes. The Willets tail is white with a dark band at the end. It has a grey/brown back and head, pale under sides and neck. Their legs are black and they have a long heavy black beak.
In flight, the Willet shows black and white wing patterns on both, upper parts and under sides of wings. The distinctive black and white pattern of the wings is a common sight along many coastal beaches. The Willet is a well-sized and stout shore bird.
Willets can grow to be around 33 – 41 centimetres (13 – 16 inches) in length. They have a wingspan of 70 centimetres (28 inches) and weigh 200 – 330 grams (7.06 – 11.65 ounces). Both male and female Willets look alike, however, the female is slightly larger than the male.
The Willets Call is a loud, ringing ‘pill-will-willet’ sound.
The Willets closest relative is the Lesser Yellowlegs, a much smaller bird with a very different appearance apart from the fine, clear and dense pattern of the neck which both species show in breeding plumage. Willets nest on the ground, usually in well-hidden locations in short grass, often in colonies.
Willets forage on mudflats or in shallow water, probing or picking up food by sight. They mainly eat insects, crustaceans and marine worms, but also eat some plant material.
The willets population declined sharply due to hunting in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Their population has since increased, however, they are still considered at risk, especially in light of continued habitat loss.