All Photos posted on this blog unless otherwise noted were taken by me with my Canon Rebel XTI using a 300 mm zoom lens

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Yellowlegs, January 2012 Bird of the Month

Greater Yellowlegs
It is Winter here in Northern Utah and most of the Shore Birds have moved on to warmer climates, but one shore bird remains throughout the winter months, the Yellowlegs. But wait there are two species of Yellowlegs the Lesser and the Greater Yellowlegs. The challenge is to identify which is which.

Of course they both have long yellow legs for which they are named, their markings are almost identical, so how do you tell the difference? If you are lucky enough to see a Greater and Lesser together side by side you can see the Greater Yellowlegs are slightly bigger, but there are other markings that help ID Greater and Lesser yellowlegs.
Lesser Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs The length of the bill is the same as the width of the head, Greater Yellowlegs the bill is longer than the width of the head. Lesser Yellowlegs have an all dark bill while the non-breeding bill of the Greater Yellowlegs is lighter gray at the base.
Lesser Yellowlegs have a straight pointed bill.
Greater Yellowlegs have a slightly upturned bill that is more blunt.

Lesser Yellowlegs breed in open boreal forest with scattered shallow wetlands. Winters in wide variety of shallow fresh and saltwater habitats.

Greater Yellowlegs breed in muskeg, wet bogs with small wooded islands, and forests (usually coniferous) with abundant clearings. Winters in wide variety of shallow fresh and saltwater habitats.

Both actively feed wading in shallows foraging for aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates, particularly flies and beetles. Occasionally small fish and seeds.

Greater Yellowlegs with Winter Plumage American Avocets
Lesser Yellowlegs with Long-billed Dowitchers
Both Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs are found throughout most of North, Central and South America.

Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs are my pick for Birds of the Month for January 2012

1 comment:

john said...

Nice tutorial about yellowlegs. Do they breed in Farmington Bay? Around here in Anchorage, breeding Lesser Yellowlegs far outnumber Greater.
Of course we never see them in the winter months. We will be looking for them in late April.