Lesser Yellowlegs vs. Greater Yellowlegs

Identification Keys and Tips

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Lesser Yellowlegs   Greater Yellowlegs
Tringa flavipes   Tringa melanoleuca

Lesser Yellowlegs - Tringa flavipes

 

Greater Yellowlegs - Tringa melanoleuca

Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs can be difficult to distinguish, especially when seen individually.   Bill characteristics and differences in flight call are typically the most reliable means for differentiating between the two species.
Length: 10 to 11 inches   Length: 14-15 inches
Wingspan: 24 inches Wingspan: 28 inches
Bill: Shorter, straight bill, about the size of the head width. Bill: Longer bill, noticeably longer than head width, and slightly upturned towards end.
Call: Short, mellow repeating tew-tew, often only repeated 2 or 3 times. Call: Louder, harsher whee-whee-whee, usually 3 to 5 notes.
Body: More delicate in appearance Body: Appears more compact. Typically has more dark barring on flanks.
South Dakota Status: Typically more common in South Dakota.  South Dakota Status: Less common than Lesser Yellowlegs, more difficult to approach (and photograph!!).  They seem to tolerate cold weather slightly better than the Lesser Yellowlegs, and early spring or late fall birds are more likely to be Greater Yellowlegs.
Lesser Yellowlegs - Range Map Greater Yellowlegs - Range Map

 

Lesser Yellowlegs

 

Greater Yellowlegs

Additional Photos Additional Photos
Lesser Yellowlegs - Tringa flavipes Lesser Yellowlegs - Tringa flavipes Lesser Yellowlegs - Tringa flavipes   Greater Yellowlegs - Tringa melanoleuca Greater Yellowlegs - Tringa melanoleuca Greater Yellowlegs - Tringa melanoleuca
Lesser Yellowlegs - Tringa flavipes Lesser Yellowlegs - Tringa flavipes  Lesser Yellowlegs - Tringa flavipes         

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