Lesser Yellowlegs

lesser yellowlegs

Lesser Yellowlegs have shorter and more needle-like bills than the Greater Yellowlegs and are smaller. 

Breeding adults have mottled gray-brown, black and white upperparts. They are white underneath with irregular brown streaking on the breast and neck. Their legs are yellow. 

Non-breeding adults have more uniform gray-brown upperparts. But their necks and breasts have varying degrees of streaking with some barring on their flanks. 

Juveniles have a dark brown smudgy cap and fine brown and white spotting on their backs. Their heads and breasts also look smudged with brown coloring and light streaking.

  • Tringa flavipes
  • Length: 9.1 – 10.6 in (23 – 27 cm)
  • Weight: 2.8 – 3.2 oz (79.5 – 90.9 g)
  • Wingspan: 23.2 – 25.2 in (59 – 64  cm)


Lesser Yellowlegs breed in Canada and the United States and migrate to southern US states, Central and South America.

Habitat and Diet

You can find Lesser Yellowlegs in a variety of fresh and brackish wetlands, especially during migration and winter. During the breeding season, they open woodlands with nearby marshes and ponds. 

Being shorebirds, Lesser Yellowlegs favor small fish, crustaceans, and small aquatic insects like dragonfly nymphs, beetles, and water boatmen. They also eat snails, worms, and seeds.

Lesser Yellowlegs calls:


Nests of Lesser Yellowlegs are well-camouflaged simple depressions located on the ground, lined with dry grass, leaves, and moss. Females lay three to five eggs that take about twenty-two days to hatch. The chicks can leave their nest a few hours after hatching. 

Fun Fact:

The Lesser Yellowlegs used to be hunted regularly which led to their declining populations in the early 20th century. While their numbers have since increased, they are now threatened by the loss of their habitat.