Lesser Yellowlegs Life History


Habitat MarshesBreeds in open boreal forest with scattered shallow wetlands. Winters in wide variety of shallow fresh and saltwater habitats.Back to top


Food Aquatic invertebratesAquatic and terrestrial invertebrates, particularly flies and beetles. Occasionally small fish and seeds.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Ground

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.

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size:3-5 eggs
Number of Broods:1 brood
Egg Length:1.5-1.9 in (3.9-4.7 cm)
Egg Width:1.1-1.2 in (2.7-3.1 cm)
Incubation Period:22-23 days
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.
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Behavior ProbingActive forager, walks through shallow water and picks up prey on or below water surface, dashes after prey on land.Back to top


Conservation Low ConcernLesser 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. 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 119 (3):178-194.

Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. Longevity records of North American birds. Version 2015.2. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2015.

Sauer, J. R., D. K. Niven, J. E. Hines, D. J. Ziolkowski Jr., K. L. Pardieck, J. E. Fallon, and W. A. Link (2017). The North American Breeding Bird Survey, Results and Analysis 1966–2015. Version 2.07.2017. USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD, USA.

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

Tibbitts, T. Lee and William Moskoff. (2014). Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

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