Another entry in Abby’s Birdbrained Summer. Abby, the summer communication intern for the Coast Office of Audubon North Carolina, is visiting sites with Audubon’s field staff and our community of volunteers. After she goes into the field, she’ll post blogs detailing her experiences.
On the Fourth of July, bird stewards at Wrightsville Beach were treated to a rare sight.
While we were on the south end of Wrightsville Beach, stewards Michelle and Kat Frazier pointed out a family of Willets marching up the beach. Willet nests are hard to find—the birds nest in tall grasses, and will not get off of their eggs until a person is literally on top of them. Then they flush startlingly in a burst of wings and feathers, as bio tech Tara McIver will tell you. Often, that is how their nests are found. Their chicks are no different, staying hidden in vegetation the majority of the time until they fledge. As adults, Willets are often seen feeding in the surf on ocean shorelines when they are not incubating their eggs.
We were lucky to see the family playing on the shore of Masonboro Inlet. The two parents carefully watched their four chicks, and made a racket if anyone came near. Four Willet chicks is unusual. Although it's normal for a female to lay a clutch of four eggs, most of the time at least one chick is lost before the brood fledges. Hopefully all will reach maturity, and continue to be brazen beachgoers!