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Greater Yellowlegs

ID Info
Greater Yellowlegs by Jim Welch/GBBC
Silhouette SandpipersSandpipers
Greater YellowlegsTringa 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 Yellowlegs
Year-roundBreedingMigrationNonbreeding
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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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

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