Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
WILLET Catoptrophorus semipalmatus L15" (38cm)
The willet acquired its name from the territorial call it gives on the breeding ground -- a melodic whistled pill-will-willet. In flight, it can be identified by looking for its black-and-white flashing wings and white tail. During the breeding season, it nests on open prairie or short marsh grass that is often situated near an alkali lake. The male often perches on rocks, fence posts, and stumps to watch for intruders near the nest. The nest consists of a small depression in the ground lined with grass and weeds. The female lays 3-4 olive-brown eggs with the incubation period lasting 22 days. The willet is often observed feeding with other shorebirds on mud flats and alkali shorelines. It feeds primarily on aquatic insects, worms, and small fish. The willet is found statewide but the largest concentrations can be observed on the Missouri Coteau and Northern Drift Plain.