Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo Courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

The willet, Catoptrophorus semipalmatus, is a shorebird that occurs in scattered parts of the United States, southern Canada, and the West Indies during its spring and summer breeding season. Individuals in northern areas of the breeding range migrate south to warmer climates for winter, sometimes traveling as far south as Brazil and Peru. The willet is a common breeder in Utah, migrating out of the state for winter. This species prefers to inhabit shorelines of marshes, mudflats, coastal beaches, and lakes.

Nests are built on the ground in marshy areas or in grassland habitat near water. The female lays a clutch of about four eggs in late spring, and the young are tended by both parents. The willet eats insects, mollusks, and other invertebrates found along the shoreline or in shallow water. Although individuals gather in large flocks to sleep, most foraging activity occurs in small groups.


  • Biotics Database. 2005. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, NatureServe, and the network of Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers.

  • Peterson, R. T., and V. M. Peterson. 1990. A field guide to western birds, 3rd ed. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 432 pp.