Living Bird Magazine
Greater YellowlegsTringa melanoleuca
- ORDER: Charadriiformes
- FAMILY: Scolopacidae
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
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.
- Archibebe Patigualdo Grande (Spanish)
- Grand Chevalier (French)
- Cool Facts
- Colloquial names for this species include telltale, tattler, and yelper, all of which refer to its strident alarm calls.
- Despite its familiarity and widespread range, its tendency to nest in buggy bogs in the North American boreal forests make it one of the least-studied shorebirds on the continent.
- Though typically associated with wetlands, Greater Yellowlegs on their breeding grounds often perch atop trees to watch for nest predators.