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Greater Yellowlegs

Tringa melanoleuca

Length: 14 inches Wingspan: 25 inches Seasonality: Migrant
ID Keys: Compare to Lesser Yellowlegs, longer bill, larger size, harsher call

Greater Yellowlegs - Tringa melanolencaGreater Yellowlegs are one of the two "Yellowlegs" species migrating through the state, the other being the Lesser Yellowlegs.  More wary than its smaller cousin, the Greater Yellowlegs will make loud alarm calls when spooked.

Habitat: Flooded fields, mud flats, shallow ponds, riverbanks, shorelines.

Diet: Mostly small fish and insects, also snails, tadpoles, and crustaceans. 

Behavior: Primarily forages in shallow water, moving quite actively .  Greater Yellowlegs will pluck food items from the surface, or will dip their bills into the water and swing their heads from side-to-side to search for food items.

Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota

Song: Greater Yellowlegs Song

Migration: Summers in Canada and Alaska.  Winters along the U.S. coasts, the extreme southern U.S., and points south

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Greater Yellowlegs sightings

Similar Species: Lesser Yellowlegs.  See Comparison Chart.

Conservation Status: No noticeable trends in numbers or range.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Greater Yellowlegs

2) WhatBird - Greater Yellowlegs

3) Audubon Guide - Greater Yellowlegs

Photo Information: April 22nd, 2003 -- Long Lake near Madison -- Terry L. Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Greater Yellowlegs photos.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Greater Yellowlegs - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Common migrant throughout the state.

Additional Greater Yellowlegs Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
Greater Yellowlegs - Tringa melanoleucaGreater Yellowlegs - Tringa melanoleucaGreater Yellowlegs - Tringa melanoleucaGreater Yellowlegs - Tringa melanoleucaGreater Yellowlegs - Tringa melanoleuca