Lesser Yellowlegs

Tringa flavipes

Very similar to the Greater Yellowlegs, the Lesser Yellowlegs is about half the weight of the Greater. The bill length is shorter, and about equal to the width of its head, while the Greater’s bill is about one-and-a-half times the length of its head.

Nesting for this bird is more northward than its larger cousin, as far as Alaska, northern Yukon and Northwest Territories in Canada. Their winter range is more southerly than the Greater Yellowlegs and extends over the entire South American continent.

The vocalizations of both birds are nearly the same, though some observers claim the calls of the Greater Yellowlegs are harsher, louder and clearer, than the Lesser Yellowlegs.

I met these birds often on their nesting grounds when I traveled through the Yukon and Alaska in 2005. I will long remember them perching prominently and singing from the tops of the tallest Black Spruce trees found in the Arctic, most of which are only six-to-ten feet tall.

Those of us living in the southern USA are fortunate for our opportunities to meet migrating birds, some of which stay through the non-breeding season. San Diego County, where I’m from, is such a place, as is South Texas.

Today’s science regards the Lesser Yellowlegs as monotypic (i.e. no subspecies).

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