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In a message dated 12/16/2003 7:41:28 PM Eastern Standard Time,
[log in to unmask] writes:

> Needless to state, this somewhat brash and unsubstantiated assertion
> aroused my curiosity and keen interest.

Hi Patrick,

As a keen Willet fan, and for what it is worth, I'd like to offer my own
personal observations regarding wintering Willets in the Tampa Bay area. While I
would be the last to suggest that all eastern Willets leave the US entirely in
the fall (simply because I just don't know whether they do or not) I have to
say that all the Willets I've scrutinised carefully in Tampa Bay in recent
winters tend to show characters which fit inornatus much better than semipalmatus.
By this I mean that they appear a little larger overall, with relatively
longer bills and legs which gives them a more godwit like shape. They are also
slightly paler without the uniform dark breast which semipalmatus tends to have
in basic plumage. The center of the neck and breast appear distinctly paler
than the sides in these winter birds. On a behavioural note the wintering birds
show a much greater tendency to wade out into the water (often up to the belly)
when feeding unlike semipalmatus which tends to prefer feeding along the
sandy shoreline. I admit that there are some generalizations involved here with
perhaps some subjectivity thrown in. I've spoken to Dave Sibley about this at
length. He told me that the exact whereabouts of semipalmatus in the winter are
largely unknown. He was the one who put me on to the differences in the
feeding behavior of the two races.

Hope this helps.

Ed Kwater
Brandon, FL

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