Boreal Birds
300+ species, billions of birds rely on Canada's boreal forest as critical breeding grounds
© Dick Daniels/Wikimedia Commons (CC 3.0)

Greater Yellowlegs

Greater Yellowlegs
Tringa melanoleuca
Sandpiper-like Birds | Family: Sandpipers, Scolopacidae

An estimated 71% of the species' North American population breeds within the Boreal Forest.

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Overview

The larger of the two yellowlegs is a noisy and conspicuous bird. It is also more wary than its smaller relative and flushes at a greater distance. It often runs about wildly in shallow water or wades up to its belly and occasionally even swims. With its long legs, it easily obtains food in pools. The bill, slightly upturned, is used to skim small animals from the surface of the water as the bird swings it from side to side. This behavior, seldom seen in the Lesser Yellowlegs, makes a Greater Yellowlegs recognizable at a long distance.

Description

14" (36 cm). A slender, gray-streaked wader with conspicuous white rump and long yellow legs. Lesser Yellowlegs is similar but smaller, with a shorter, straighter, and more slender bill and a different call.

Voice

A series of musical whistled notes: whew-whew-whew.

Nesting

4 tawny eggs, heavily marked with brown, in a slight depression on the ground in a damp open spot.

Habitat

Breeds on tundra and marshy ground; frequents pools, lakeshores, and tidal mudflats on migration.

Range/Migration

Breeds from south-central Alaska eastward across central Canada to Maritime Provinces and Newfoundland. Winters mainly along coasts from Washington State and Virginia southward, and along Gulf Coast.