Greater Yellowlegs

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Common Name: Greater Yellowlegs
Scientific Name: Tringa melanoleuca

Size: 11 ½ -14 inches (29-35.5 cm)

Habitat: North America; They migrate to the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States and south to South America. They are very rare vagrants to Western Europe. Breeds in muskeg, wet bogs with small wooded islands, and forests (usually coniferous) with abundant clearings. Winters in wide variety of shallow fresh and saltwater habitats.

Status: Least Concern. Global population: 100,000. Yellowlegs are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

Diet: Small aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates, small fish, frogs, and occasionally seeds and berries. Foraging behavior: Wades in water and picks up prey it sees, sweeps bill side-to-side through water to catch prey by feel.

Nesting: Their breeding habitat is bogs and marshes in the boreal forest region of Canada and Alaska. They nest on the ground, usually in well-hidden locations near water in a shallow scrape or depression in moss or peat on ground, lined with dead leaves, lichens, grasses, and short, thin spruce twigs. They lay 3-4 eggs. The incubation period is 23 days. The young leave the nest within 24 hours of hatching and then leave vicinity of the nest within 2 days.

Cool Facts: The two yellowleg species are very similar. Size is marked different when they appear together and can be compared against each other. Greater Yellowlegs's bill appears slightly upturned and blunt-tipped, while Lesser Yellowlegs's bill is straight and sharp-pointed. Lesser's bill is always dark, while Greater's bill is grayish at the base in nonbreeding season. Voice is best distinguishing character: Greater gives three or four piercing notes, Lesser two rapid, softer short whistles (sometimes or or three).

Found in Songbird ReMix Shorebirds Volume 3: Small Waders

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