Yellowlegs are a common shorebird of flooded fields, shorelines, and
mudflats as they migrate through South Dakota. Lesser Yellowlegs are one of the two "Yellowlegs" species migrating through
the state, the other being the Greater
Habitat: Flooded meadows, mud flats,
shallow ponds, and shorelines during migration. On its summer breeding
grounds in Canada and Alaska, it breeds in clearings in the boreal forest,
often near water, but not always.
Diet: Insects, small fish, and crustaceans.
Eats many aquatic insects, which make up the majority of it's summer diet.
Behavior: Forages in very shallow water. It
usually grabs food items right at or right below the surface, rarely probing
deeper into mud or lake bottom. They can sometimes be seen walking
along through shallow water, bill tip barely submerged, swinging their head
and bill back and forth and grabbing prey items they come into contact with.
Nesting: Non-breeder in South Dakota. In
breeding range, the nest of a Lesser Yellowlegs is a shallow depression on the
ground, sparsely lined with bits of vegetation, and often in a protected area
like near a clump of vegetation or a stump. The female usually lays 3 or 4
eggs, and both parents help to incubate them. The young leave the nest
soon after hatching and feed themselves, but both parents help tend to them and
protect them. The young fledge after about 3 weeks.
Song: Harsh short tew-tew or
tew. Alarm call is sharp kip. Also makes musical pill-e-wee.
Migration: Summers in Canada and Alaska. Winters on U.S.
coasts, the extreme southern U.S., and points south.
Conservation Status: Generally stable throughout its range,
Lesser Yellowlegs are common in some areas and are found over a wide geographic
area. The IUCN
lists the Lesser Yellowlegs as a species of "Least Concern".
Cornell University's "All About Birds - Lesser Yellowlegs"
eNature.com: Lesser Yellowlegs
Photo Information: April 22nd, 2012 -- Western
Minnehaha County -- Terry L. Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution Lesser Yellowlegs photos.