Western Willets on Antelope Island

/, Birds, Davis County, Utah, Willets/Western Willets on Antelope Island

Willet perched high on a GreasewoodWillet perched high on a Greasewood – Nikon D810, f9, 1/400, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

There are two subspecies of Willets in North America and during the breeding season in Utah the birds we see are the Western subspecies. When I lived in Florida I would see the Eastern subspecies during the breeding season and the Western subspecies during the winter. Two days ago I was able to photograph willets in several locations on Antelope Island. This one was perched high on a Greasewood and was keeping a watchful eye out because of a Coyote that had passed through the area earlier.

A Willet on a rock being buggedA Willet on a rock being bugged – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/400, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

This Willet was being bugged by mosquitoes while I was being bugged too. I don’t recall ever seeing the mosquitoes as thick as they are this year on the island and they sure are annoying to people, beasts and birds. There is a blurry mosquito just in front of this Willet’s neck.

A Willet wading through CheatgrassA Willet wading through Cheatgrass – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/400, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

While the Eastern subspecies of Willet are always found in coastal areas both during breeding and nonbreeding season Western Willets are grassland breeders and this time of the year they may have tiny chicks walking in the grasses with them that are well camouflaged by the cryptic patterns of their plumage but the adults usually call loudly if you get near their chicks, this Willet didn’t have any chicks nearby. I have seen chicks already this year but they were hidden in the grasses.

Life is good.



  1. Marilyn Kircus June 6, 2015 at 7:20 pm

    Until I found out about the two subspecies of willets, I had to relearn them each spring and fall. In Texas the western winter with us, while the eastern come back to breed in the spring. Finally I learned that there are the two subspecies. I just entered western willet in an ebird count and was called on it at Red Rock Lakes. Still have to look up if that is not what we have. Looks like your pictures.

  2. Elephant's Child June 6, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    An ignorant question. Do the blood suckers suck bird blood?
    Beautiful camoflague. Beautiful bird. Beautiful morning.

    • Utahbooklover June 7, 2015 at 6:49 pm

      Here in the outskirts of Brigham City, near the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, the mosquitos are the worse I’ve seen in the few years I’ve lived here. Yes, they like birds too and can of course transmit disease.

      “Female mosquitoes can be particular about whose blood they consume, with each species having its own preferences. Most mosquitoes attack birds and mammals, though some feed on the blood of reptiles and amphibians. Only female mosquitoes bite, because a blood meal is usually required for egg laying. All male mosquitoes, and the females of a few species, do not bite. They feed on nectar and other plant juices instead of blood.” http://www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/pcmosquitoes.htm

      • Elephant's Child June 7, 2015 at 7:16 pm

        Thank you. I knew it was only the females that bite. Wasn’t certain whether they bit everything – or just me.

  3. Patty Chadwick June 6, 2015 at 8:24 am

    I guess it’s the speckled effect, but these birds can “disappear” so easily…right in front of your eyes…the adults as well as the chicks. I hope those pesky mosquitoes are good food for some critter…I know dragonflies gobble them up…and bats. Are there any bat colonies on the island? Swallows and flycatchers eat them, too, don’t they???

  4. Nancy Collins June 6, 2015 at 5:47 am

    Beautiful bird, beautiful photos Mia!

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