Greater Yellowlegs

Greater Yellowlegs

Greater Yellowlegs are larger than the similar Lesser Yellowlegs. Adult Greater Yellowlegs are lanky, with long, yellow legs, and thick, long slightly upward-curved bills.

They are generally finely streaked on the head and neck with some heavy streaking with brown on their throats. Their upperparts are speckled with brown and gray while their underparts are plain white. 

Breeding adults normally have darker and denser streaking on the breast and neck with additional heavy streaks on their flanks. 

  • Tringa melanoleuca
  • Length: 11.4 – 13.0 in (29 – 33 cm)
  • Weight: 4.5 – 7.7 oz (128 – 219 g)
  • Wingspan: 23.6 in (60 cm)


Greater Yellowlegs that breed in Canada and the United States generally migrate to the Gulf Coast and Central America. They are also found in South America.

Habitat and Diet

You can find Greater Yellowlegs in wetland habitats like tidal flats, wet meadows, and flooded agricultural fields.

Greater Yellowlegs usually wade in shallow water and use their long bills to poke at and stir the water to capture crustaceans, marine worms, and frogs. They also eat small fish and insects, seeds and berries.

Greater Yellowlegs calls:


Nests of Greater Yellowlegs are found on the ground near water and lined with leaves and lichen. They lay up to four eggs which take about twenty-three days to hatch.

Once they hatch, the chicks are able to leave the nest after a few hours and can feed themselves. 

Fun Fact:

Greater Yellowlegs are easy to spot not only for their yellow legs but also for their striking high-stepping gait across the muddy wetlands.