Greater Yellowlegs

Hey guys welcome back. Today a tall shorebird that has earned the nickname of “marshpiper” since it tends to wad in deeper water than other sandpipers. The greater yellowlegs is the second of two yellowlegs we’ve looked at. They look very similar – nearly identical – to their cousin the lesser yellowlegs. They tend to be longer bodies, and slightly bigger overall, which can be tricky to determine when the two aren’t standing near each other. An easier way to determine one from the other is the bill. The greater yellowlegs has a longer bill relative to its head, and it often appears to have a slight upturn to it. They also look similar to solitary sandpipers in pattern, but the solitary has a bold eyering and lacks the greater yellowlegs’ signature bright yellow legs

Greater yellowlegs, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Jamaica, NY

Their ranges also slightly differ from their lesser counterparts. They tend to not breed quite as far north in Canada, but also tend to have a larger winter presence in the US. Although they are most commonly seen along wetlands in the US during migration, they tend to nest in forests and perch in trees during breeding season. Like most shorebirds, they spend their time probing the mudflats for invertebrates, but they tend to move with a quicker gait than other shorebirds, even sprinting a few feet here and there.

Greater Yellowlegs. Mentor Headlands State Park, Mentor, OH

Parking lots aren’t usually good habitat, but this past spring one end of the Mentor Headlands State Beach parking lot flooded. It remained flooded for so long that wetland plants took root. Dubbed the cement pond by local birders, this end of the parking lot (which is now closed to traffic) has become a decent shorebird area. In fact, believe it or not, the picture above was taken in that parking lot. Doesn’t look much like a parking lot anymore! It also afforded me some good looks at a bird that is often too far away to get a good look at. Sticking with shorebirds, next time we’ll look at the short-billed dowitcher. See you then!

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