Willet

Willet

Some ornithologists make a distinction between Western and Eastern Willets. (The ones out west are a bit bigger.) So far at least they have not been divided into two species. These birds were heavily hunted during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and were close to extinction. The 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty restricted hunting of all migratory birds and, today, Willet populations are recovering throughout the United States.

The poets and mythmakers appear to have swept Willet and Whimbrel into their stories about Curlew without making distinction, however, the name was alive and well in the early history of America. Thomas Willet was the first mayor of New York and Colonel Marinus Willet was an active participant in many of the violent episodes that characterized our early history including the American Revolution. In people's names it is usually defined as being short for Little William. In the case of the name of this bird it is derived from Willet's call.

As a recovering species, Willet is something of a success story,
but he is not out of the woods by a long shot.

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