Lesser Yellowlegs

A mottled gray shorebird with bright yellow legs, the Lesser Yellowlegs is similar in appearance to the Greater Yellowlegs, with some important differences. The Lesser Yellowlegs is about half the size (in weight) of the Greater Yellowlegs, which is a useful distinction when the two are seen together. The bill of the Lesser Yellowlegs is not significantly longer than the diameter of its head, whereas the Greater Yellowlegs’ bill is much longer. The bill of the Lesser Yellowlegs does not become paler at the base during the winter; it is solid black year round. Its bill always appears straight, without the slight upturn sometimes seen on the bill of the Greater Yellowlegs. In flight, the Lesser has a dark back, a white rump, and a dark tip on its tail. Relative to its size, the Lesser’s legs are longer than those of the Greater Yellowlegs, a difference that can be seen in flight (entire toes and tip of tarsus visible behind the tail). Juvenile Lesser Yellowlegs have finer streaking on their breasts than do juvenile Greater Yellowlegs.