Willet Identification

The Four Keys to ID

  • Size & Shape

    Willets are large, stocky shorebirds with long legs and thick, straight bills considerably longer than the head. Their wings are broader and rounder than those of many shorebirds and the tail is short and squared off at the base.

    Relative Size

    A large shorebird with a pigeon-sized body on long legs

    Relative Sizecrow sizedcrow-sized
    Measurements
    • Both Sexes
      • Length: 13.0-16.1 in (33-41 cm)
      • Weight: 7.0-11.6 oz (200-330 g)
      • Wingspan: 27.6 in (70 cm)

Regional Differences

Two distinct subspecies occur in North America: one that breeds in the East and another that breeds in the West. (Both subspecies may be seen along the East Coast during fall migration. Eastern Willets leave the U.S. in winter for Central and South America, while some Western Willets winter along the East Coast.) Western Willets are larger but more slender, with a narrower bill than Eastern Willets. Their breeding plumage is less strongly barred than their eastern counterparts.