Willets (Tringa semipalmata ) are among the largest species of sandpipers. Western willets, like those shown in this week's photo, breed in freshwater prairie marshes in western North America, and winter on both coasts. Nesting on the ground, usually in well-hidden locations in short grass, often in colonies, willets forage on mudflats or in shallow water. Their primary food is insects, crustaceans, and marine worms. They use their long, straight beaks to probe in sand or mud for food.
Willets compete directly for food with a number of other similarly-sized shorebirds, often interacting aggressively for food and space. Common competitive species include long-billed curlews (Numenius americanus), least sandpipers (Calidris minutilla ), common terns (Sterna hirundo ), least terns (Sterna antillarum ), Wilson's phalaropes (Phalaropus tricolor), greater yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca ), killdeer (Charadrius vociferus ), dowitchers (Limnodromus), Wilson's plovers (Charadrius wilsonia), marbled godwits (Limosa fedoa), and gulls (Larus sp.). They are also know to compete with American crows (Corvus brachyrhycnhos) and fish crows (Corvus osifragus).
This week's photo was taken with a Canon EOS 10D dSLR and an EF 100 - 400 mm lens zoomed to 350 mm. Exposure was for 1/500 sec at f/8.0 and ISO 100.