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Lesser Yellowlegs


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The Lesser Yellowlegs is a slender, long-legged shorebird that readily shows off the brightly colored legs that give it its name. It is an active feeder, often running through the shallow water to chase its prey.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
9.1–9.8 in
23–25 cm
23.2–25.2 in
59–64 cm
2.4–3.3 oz
67–94 g
Other Names
  • Petit chevalier (French)
  • Patamarilla menor (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • Both the male and female Lesser Yellowlegs provide parental care to the young, but the female tends to leave the breeding area before the chicks can fly, thus leaving the male to defend the young until fledging.
  • The oldest recorded Lesser Yellowlegs was at least 4 years, 11 months old when it was found in South Dakota in 1965. It had been banded in the Lesser Antilles in 1960.



Breeds in open boreal forest with scattered shallow wetlands. Winters in wide variety of shallow fresh and saltwater habitats.



Aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates, particularly flies and beetles. Occasionally small fish and seeds.


Nesting Facts
Egg Description
Gray with brown markings.
Condition at Hatching
Downy and able to walk. Leave nest in a few hours after hatching and feed themselves.
Nest Description

Depression in ground or moss, lined with dry grass, decayed leaves, spruce needles or other debris, placed on dry, mossy ridges or hummocks, next to fallen branches and logs, and underneath low shrubs.

Nest Placement




Active forager, walks through shallow water and picks up prey on or below water surface, dashes after prey on land.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

Lesser Yellowlegs populations declined between 1966 and 2015, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. A 2012 study estimates a continental population of 660,000 birds. The species rates a 13 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score, and is on the 2016 State of North America's Birds' Watch List, which includes bird species that are most at risk of extinction without significant conservation actions to reverse declines and reduce threats.


Range Map Help

Lesser Yellowlegs Range Map
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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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