Lesser yellowlegs in breeding plumage
All photos on this web page © Bob Gress
9 1/4- 10 inches
23 1/2 - 25 1/2 inches
Lesser Yellowlegs are robin-sized with a relatively long, dark bill, slightly
grayer at the base, a white eye ring and long, yellow legs. In breeding plumage, they show
heavy, black markings on their back, breast and sides. Black markings are replaced by an
overall gray in nonbreeding plumage. In flight, both species of yellowlegs show a
distinctive dark body which contrasts with a square white rump and pale tail.
Note slim, straight, mostly dark bill and bright yellow legs.
- Similar Species:
They are distinguishable from Greater Yellowlegs by a
smaller body and thin, straight bill about the length of the head. They tend to feed in
larger flocks in more sheltered areas than Greater Yellowlegs. Listen for the two-note
call versus the three or four notes of the Greater Yellowlegs. Willets
are larger, have a stockier appearance and blue legs. Solitary
Sandpipers legs are usually greenish. Stilt Sandpipers
also have greenish legs, a slightly drooping bill and spend more time probing in a single
- Comments: Lesser
Yellowlegs tend to feed by walking rapidly, seldom running, picking at the water surface.
They breed in loose colonies on the tundra and taiga throughout northern North America.
Nonbreeding season is spent in coastal areas of southern North America and throughout
Central and South America. They are seen in flocks during migration throughout the Great
Text: Suzanne Fellows and Bob Gress
Web Design: Jim Mason