If you frequent the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, you’ve probably seen this large, sandpiper-like shore bird patrolling the surf line but paid no attention because of his rather drab markings. Until, that is, you see him in flight and hear his piercing call. A bold white and black stripe that runs the length of both wings is a definite eye catcher. So is his call: “pill-will-Willet” he screams while flying up and down the beac
Willets were almost hunted to extinction in the 19th century because of their size and juicy taste. They’ve made a huge comeback and now, it’s almost impossible to visit the Atlantic Coast from Maine to Florida, including the Gulf Coast, and not see them. Seen above in his mottled brown breeding plumage, they’re a regular sight on the beach foraging for tiny Sand Crabs.
They can be very entertaining to watch as they drill their long beaks into the sand when they see the tell tale bubble of a Sand Crab burrowing in the sand. The one seen below along the Outer Banks of North Carolina at Duck, seemed to be spending more time dodging the incoming breakers and globs of sea foam than looking for a snack.
The foam, by the way, is churned up by agitated sea water particularly when it contains dissolved organic elements like protein from offshore algae.
I’m posting early this week because I’ll be away over the weekend to, where else, the Atlantic Coast. Thanks for the visit. Have a good week ahead. See you next time.