Willet’s Wings

(Burrowing Owl Update Below)

Willets (Tringa semipalmata)

The Willet is the most conservative dresser among the shorebirds. Except in the brief breeding season, when it sports a herringbone pattern, the Willet wears a drab gray overcoat without distinguishing stripes or accents of any sort. With that coloration it easily blends into the dry rocks in the embankment on the parks’ east side, facing the North Basin. Last week I had finished filming the Burrowing Owl higher up on those rocks, and saw what looked like a bird-shaped thing at the water’s edge below. Indeed, it was a Willet standing asleep on a slanting stone with one foot fairly deep in the water. As the tide was rising, a small wave caught the bird’s belly feathers and woke it up. It scrambled for a higher perch, and as it did so, the Willet revealed a dramatic secret normally folded under its wings: a pattern of bold black-and-white stripes. The Willet in flight is a very different bird from the shy Willet standing on shore. How many other shorebirds can boast of a wing display to equal the Willet’s?

However, on this occasion, the Willet wasn’t interested in making a flight display. It scrambled up the stone and joined three of its co-feathers in the business of the hour. They all opened their eyes while the bird was repositioning. When it had tucked in one leg and pointed its beak into its back feathers, they all closed up again and went back to sleep.

Willets (Tringa semipalmata)

Burrowing Owl Update

This sunny post-rain morning, the Burrowing Owl remained in Perch B for the second day. A chill breeze fluffed its feathers. The bird looked left and right in a relaxed sort of way. During the few minutes that I was able to film it, the owl showed no agitation and did no preening. Birds live in a different time space from us. Spending a couple of hours, or more, just standing and looking around, is normal for them.

Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) Dec. 4 2022


Rainbow over North Basin

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