Greater Yellowlegs

ID Info
Greater Yellowlegs by Jim Welch/GBBC
Silhouette SandpipersSandpipers

Greater Yellowlegs

Tringa melanoleuca
  • ORDER: Charadriiformes
  • FAMILY: Scolopacidae
Basic Description

Often referred to as a “marshpiper” for its habit of wading in deeper water than other sandpipers, the Greater Yellowlegs is heftier and longer-billed than its lookalike, the Lesser Yellowlegs. Greater Yellowlegs are seen mostly during migration, as they pass between nesting grounds in the mosquito-ridden bogs of boreal Canada and wintering territories on marshes across the southern tier of the United States. With its flashy yellow legs, sturdy bill, and deliberate gait, it cuts a dashing, often solitary, figure on mudflats from coast to coast.

More ID Info
image of range map for Greater YellowlegsRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

Find This Bird

Seeking out the Greater Yellowlegs requires a little bit of effort and good timing. Like most shorebirds, Greater Yellowlegs frequent ephemeral mudflats and shallow marshes in spring and fall migration. Local weather is important: in drought conditions, look for them in the shallow upper arms of reservoirs and lakes where nutrient-rich mud is exposed. In wet weather, look for them in flooded fields where rain creates shallow pools. Within a given wetland, you’ll often find Greater Yellowlegs wading in deeper water than other shorebird species.

Other Names
  • Archibebe Patigualdo Grande (Spanish)
  • Grand Chevalier (French)
  • Cool Facts