Lesser Yellowlegs

(Tringa flavipes)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not listed

LC - Least Concern

Lesser Yellowlegs

 

NatureServe

N5B, N5N - Secure Breeding and Nonbreeding

SNRM - Unranked Migrant

Minnesota

not listed

Occurrence

Common to locally abundant migrant

    Photo by Lynn Rubey
Habitat

Marshes, wet meadows, mudflats, flooded agricultural fields, and the shores of lakes and ponds.

Size

10 to 11 in length

24 wingspan

 
 
Identification

Lesser Yellowlegs is a medium-sized sandpiper. It nests in meadows and open woodlands from Alaska to Quebec, and winters mostly in South America. It is a common to locally abundant migrant throughout Minnesota from late March to early June and from July to October. In Minnesota it is found in marshes, wet meadows, mudflats, and flooded agricultural fields, and on the shores of lakes and ponds. It eats mostly flies, beetles, and other insects, but also spiders, small fish, snails, crustaceans, worms, and seeds.

The population of Lesser Yellowlegs is declining due to habitat loss in part the result of climate change. However, the species range is extremely large and the species is not considered vulnerable.

A Lesser Yellowlegs looks similar to a Greater Yellowlegs but is smaller. The adult is 10 to 11 in length and has a wingspan of 24. It is a slender shorebird with a small head, a thin bill, and long, bright yellow legs. The nonbreeding plumage is uniformly gray on the upper side with fine, dark streaking. The underparts are white with small gray spots. There is a dark line from the bill to the eye. The bill is straight, thin, entirely black, and about the same length as the head.

 
Voice

 

 
Similar
Species

Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) is larger, 13 to 15 in length. The bill is stouter, noticeably longer than the head, and often slightly upturned.

 
Food

Mostly flies, beetles, and other insects, but also spiders, small fish, snails, crustaceans, worms, and seeds.

 
Nesting

They nest in boreal forests from Alaska to Quebec.

 
Migration

Late March to early June and July to October.

 
Comments

 

 
Taxonomy

Order:

Charadriiformes (shorebirds and relatives)

 

Family:

Scolopacidae (sandpipers)

 

Genus:

Tringa

 
Synonyms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       
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Lynn Rubey
       

Lesser Yellowlegs in The Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge in Lac qui Parle County, near the West Pool area.

       

Lesser Yellowlegs foraging for food.

  Lesser Yellowlegs    
       

A Lesser Yellowlegs standing on one foot with one foot tucked up reducing its heat loss by half. The un feathered limbs lose body heat. These birds an adaptation called “rete mirabile” that minimizes heat loss.

The arteries that transport warm blood into the legs lie in contact with the veins that return colder blood to the bird's heart. The arteries warm the veins. Because the veins also cool the arteries, the bird’s feet are closer to environmental temperature and thus don’t lose as much heat as they would if they were at body temperature. And by standing on one leg, a bird reduces by half the amount of heat lost through un-feathered limbs.

  Lesser Yellowlegs
       

A pair of Lesser Yellowlegs foraging for food in the West Pool area of the grassy marshes.

  Lesser Yellowlegs    
       
  Lesser Yellowlegs    
       
       
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  Tringa flavipes
Bill Keim
 
  Tringa flavipes  
 
About

Family: Scolopacidae

Genus: Tringa

- Tringa flavipes (Lesser Yellowlegs)

 
     
  Lesser Yellowlegs
JMC Nature Photos
 
  Lesser Yellowlegs  
     

 

slideshow

       
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Other Videos
 
  Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) at Heron's Head San Francisco
Josiah Clark
 
   
 
About

Feb 7, 2014

Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) in San Francisco's Heron's Head Park. Though more common in the fall in wetlands further from the coast, this species is notably rare in the city. I forgot who found this, but nice find! I believe September 2012. This bird was about the size of a Killdeer, notably smaller than the more more common Greater Yellowlegs. It also has a straighter, thinner bill than a Greater Yellowlegs. I love how it perks up when the first siren blips.

https://www.facebook.com/JosiahClarkNaturalist

   
       
  Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)
Experiencing Life Trips
 
   
 
About

Apr 29, 2018

Perry Lake, Kansas, in April when the water level is intentionally down in preparation for Spring rains.

   
       
  Greater & Lesser Yellowlegs
Mark Vance
 
   
 
About

Mar 13, 2013

Greater & Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) - By: Mark H. Vance - Be sure to check out all of Mark's bird videos at http://www.youtube.com/markinsrq5 Please subscribe if you like birds, many more great videos to come! Thanks

Mark Vance
5342 Clark Rd #144
Sarasota, Fl 34233

The Celery Fields - Sarasota, Florida Facebook Page - https://www.facebook.com/groups/218447741581516/

Please join!

   
       

 

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Lynn Rubey
5/11/2020

Location: Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge

A Lesser Yellowlegs standing on one foot with one foot tucked up reducing its heat loss by half. The un feathered limbs lose body heat. These birds an adaptation called "rete mirabile" that minimizes heat loss.

The arteries that transport warm blood into the legs lie in contact with the veins that return colder blood to the bird's heart. The arteries warm the veins. Because the veins also cool the arteries, the bird’s feet are closer to environmental temperature and thus don’t lose as much heat as they would if they were at body temperature. And by standing on one leg, a bird reduces by half the amount of heat lost through un-feathered limbs.

Lesser Yellowlegs


 
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Created: 6/3/2020

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