Unlike many shorebirds, Willets breed inland. When nesting is done, they migrate south to both Atlantic and Pacific coastlines in the U.S. and Central and South America. What they all have in common, wherever they have bred and wherever they spend the winters, is an unmistakable voice, combining the insistent petulance of a hungry chipmunk with the lyrical rhythms of a whip-poor-will.
The Noisy Willet
Written by Rick Wright
This is BirdNote.
[Willet, ML 48808]
The nervous yapping of that big, boldly marked sandpiper called the Willet is a characteristic sound of sandy beaches from Canada to Colombia.
[ML 196439, 1:01 ff.]
Many shorebirds stick to the coasts, but the yelping and rollicking whistles of the Willet can also be heard in the wide-open marshes of the Great Plains and Intermountain West. From the Sandhills of Nebraska and the Bear Lake marshes of Utah, to the rich grasslands of Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Come mid-summer, though, when nesting is done, these prairie breeders head for the coasts, arriving on beaches as early as July.
And their migration patterns from there depend on which coast they go to. Willets that nested in the salt marshes on the Atlantic coast move on to wintering grounds from the Carolinas to the shores of Brazil. Most of the West Coast Willets will spend a leisurely winter in California, down through Colombia.
What they all have in common, wherever they have bred and wherever they spend the winters, is that unmistakable voice,
combining the insistent petulance of a hungry chipmunk with the lyrical rhythms of a whip-poor-will.
For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.
Senior Producer: John Kessler
Production Manager: Allison Wilson
Editor: Ashley Ahearn
Producer: Mark Bramhill
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Willet, ML 48808, recorded by Kevin J. Colver. Willet, ML 196439, recorded by Bob Mcguire.
BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
© 2021 BirdNote January 2021 Narrator: Mary McCann
ID# WILL-01-2021-01-21 WILL-01