Family Sandpipers, Snipes, Phalaropes (Scolopacidae)

Least Concern

Willet (Tringa semipalmata)


French: Chevalier semipalmé German: Schlammtreter Spanish: Playero aliblanco

Scolopax semipalmata

J. F. Gmelin

, 1789,

New York, USA


Previously placed in monospecific genus Catoptrophorus, but recent molecular study indicates that placement in Tringa is appropriate#R. Two subspecies recognized. Genetic, but also morphological, ecological, and behavioral differences suggest that the two subspecies may merit treatment as separate species#R.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • T. s. inornata (Brewster, 1887) – C Alberta and SW Manitoba S to NE California, N Colorado and W Nebraska; winters from coastal S USA to N South America, mainly on Pacific coast, S to N Chile.
  • T. s. semipalmata (J. F. Gmelin, 1789) – S New Brunswick, Atlantic and Gulf coasts of USA, and West Indies; winters from Atlantic and Gulf coasts of USA and Mexico through Central America and West Indies to S Brazil.
  • Descriptive notes

    33–41 cm; 173–375 g; wingspan 56–66 cm. Medium-sized, rather broad-winged, tall-standing wader resembling Tringa; heavy bill, long legs; pale... read more


    Rather noisy, giving loud “klip” or “kleep” in alarm and a harsh “wee-wee-wee” in flight, but is... read more


    Races differ in habitat preferences: inornata associated with prairie marshes uring... read more

    Food and feeding

    While breeding, feeds on small molluscs, fish fry, marine worms and aquatic insects. Outside breeding season often takes small crabs,... read more


    Lays Apr–Jun, mainly early May to mid Jun in inornata and overall from late Apr to mid Jul in nominate. Probably monogamous... read more


    Race inornata strongly migratory, wintering as far N as Gulf of Mexico and California,... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Recent estimates suggest total population 250,000 birds, of which c. 10% breed in Canada, with nominate race thouht to number 90,000... read more

    Recommended citation

    Van Gils, J., Wiersma, P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Willet (Tringa semipalmata). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 23 February 2020).