Greater Yellowlegs Life History


Habitat MarshesBreeds in muskeg, wet bogs with small wooded islands, and forests (usually coniferous) with abundant clearings. Winters in wide variety of shallow fresh and saltwater habitats.Back to top


Food Aquatic invertebratesSmall aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates, small fish, frogs, and occasionally seeds and berries.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Ground

Nest Description

Shallow scrape or depression in moss or peat on ground, lined with dead leaves, lichens, grasses, and short, thin spruce twigs

Nesting Facts
Egg Description:Gray to brown with dark markings.
Condition at Hatching:Downy and able to walk. Leave nest in a few hours after hatching and feed themselves.
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Behavior ProbingWades in water and picks up prey it sees, sweeps bill side-to-side through water to catch prey by feel.Back to top


Conservation Low ConcernGreater Yellowlegs populations appear to have increased between 1966 and 2014, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. There is considerable variability among datasets on population counts, but a 2012 study estimates the North American population at 137,000 birds. Greater Yellowlegs is not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List.Back to top


Andres, B. A., P. A. Smith, R. I. G. Morrison, C. L. Gratto-Trevor, S. C. Brown and C. A. Friis. 2012a. Population estimates of North American shorebirds, 2012. Wader Study Group Bulletin no. 119 (3):178-194.

Elphick, Chris S. and T. Lee Tibbitts. 1998. Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

North American Bird Conservation Initiative. 2014. The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

Sauer, J. R., J. E. Hines, J. E. Fallon, K. L. Pardieck, Jr. Ziolkowski, D. J. and W. A. Link. The North American Breeding Bird Survey, results and analysis 1966-2013 (Version 1.30.15). USGS Patuxtent Wildlife Research Center 2014b. Available from

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley guide to birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, USA.

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