"A True Bird Story"

The Willet

willet    My sister-in-law, the birder, loves visiting the State Park at Antelope Island, near Salt Lake City. She told us a great story about this week’s bird.

    She said, the Willets are tough and feisty birds if ever a car invades their territory. She knows first hand. Unbeknownst to her, she drove her car too close to a Willet’s nesting area. The Willet immediately attacked her car by flying in circles around and around, making loud noises. It was trying to drive her car away. Once she was out of the nesting area the Willet broke off the attack and flew back to the nest.

    Willets today are considered an "at risk" specie due to habitat loss. Now if a Willet can show that much spunk toward my sister-in-law’' car..... maybe it should do the same to those giant machines ripping into their habitat. Hummmmmm!

    When the Willet is flying, there is no guessing what specie it is. The two-foot wingspan of the Willet shows bold black and white patterns. When not in flight, it looks like most any other dark gray Sandpiper. Willets nest on the ground, usually in well-hidden locations in short grass, and often in colonies. Their long bill is a great tool to probe for food in shallow water and mudflats. Willets love the great Salt Lake and, in particular, Antelope Island. Some Willets choose to nest on the island while others migrate north. Come winter they are found from the mid-Atlantic states south to Brazil on the Atlantic, and from Oregon south to Peru on the Pacific.

    For a different excursion this summer, try Antelope Island with it’s herds of Antelope, Bison, Trophy Mule Deer, Coyotes, and a lovely setting of bird life. In all seasons birders find Antelope Island a rare treat. In winter there are Eagles from the north. In spring and fall there are a zillion migrating stopovers, and in summer a place for birds to breed. Birders find this island an R&R (rest & rehab) get-away from crowds of people along the Wasatch front.

    Once again, Brenda Rusnell has drawn for you her interpretation of the Willet in flight. Brenda constantly does a great job and we thank her for her efforts.

    In the coming months, Red Cliffs Audubon invites you to their meetings and field trips. Go to for details. Monthly Meetings are at the Tonaquint Nature Center the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. For more information call Marilyn Davis at 435 673-0996.

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