HALIFAX RIVER AUDUBON
A Florida Chapter of the National Audubon Society
Serving greater Daytona Beach area
Founded 1923

 

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SEPTEMBER 1, 2014 - Every summer when we'd return to the beach in South Carolina for our vacation, I'd get excited that I may have found a life bird.  He was a relatively large (14-15 inches tall), stocky long-legged wader with a nondescript gray toned back, long bill and grayish legs.  He was too big to be a Yellowlegs -- and he didn't have yellow legs.  He/she would walk calmly along the surf teasing me that I couldn't remember his name.  Then something or someone would give him a fright and he'd take off.  As soon as I saw the beautiful black and white wing pattern, I'd remember that he is a Willet. 

All those years ago, I didn't realize there were Eastern and Western races of the Willet.  It was difficult enough for me to remember the name of the plain-Jane bird, let alone remember that the eastern birds are strictly coastal all year.  Western Willets breed inland and migrate to both coasts.  Western birds are roughly 10% larger than Eastern birds with longer bills and legs.  The Western bird has a slightly more slender bill which may also be slightly upturned.  The wingtips may protrude beyond the tail.  Overall, the Western Willet is a paler bird.

Most Florida Willets breed along our coasts from April through mid-June.  Willets seen in the winter on our coast may be from the Western race that breeds on the prairies of the northern US and southern Canada.  They nest in grassy dunes and salt marsh.  The forage at the edge of the tidal wash for coquina clams and mole crabs.1

Our thanks to John Roessler for sharing this photo of three Willets who appear to be practicing a choreographed dance.  John took this photo at Ft. DeSoto in 2008.

1 "Florida's Living Beaches, A Guide for the Curious Beachcomber" Blair & Dawn Witherington (Pineapple Press, Sarasota, FL 2010)

 

Florida's Water & Land Legacy Amendment -- now classified as Amendment 1 -- will be on the ballot in November 2014.  If passed, 33% of the State's documentary stamp tax revenue (paid when real estate is sold) will be dedicated to land conservation, provide for outdoor recreation, managing existing lands and protection of lands critical to the water supply.  This is NOT a new tax, just an allocation of what is already being collected.  The amount of money collected by Amendment 1 from the existing stamp tax amounts to less than 1% of the State budget.  For more information, visit the official website by clicking on the link below.

Florida's Water and Land Legacy official website
If you would like to receive email communication directly from the Legacy site, please click here.

 


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