Adult: It is
difficult to learn to distinguish between the Greater Yellowlegs and the
almost identical Lesser Yellowlegs without a good bit of comparison
between the two, so some similarities are described under Lesser
Yellowlegs. There you will find comments regarding relative size, voice,
bill length, habitat, breeding and nesting.
Remember: the yellowlegs species
are not the only shorebirds with yellow legs. Be sure of your bird. You
may want to check your field guide further before making your call.
The bill of Greater Yellowlegs is
dark, thicker - especially at the base - and heavier than Lesserís, and
slightly upturned. Greater may use it to skim the surface or sweep
side-to-side through the water in its search for fhe small fish and
aquatic creatures it feeds upon. Greater Yellowlegs sometimes hustle about
in an erratic, haphazard fashion. They are always wary, always watchful
and quick to fly.
The long legs are yellow. Winter
plumage is grayish. Breast is finely streaked. Dark bill is pale at its
base except in spring. A white rump patch is visible in flight.
Breeding Plumage: Streaked
neck and head and dark barring on flanks that may extend to belly. The
yellow hue of the legs may vary to yellow-orange.
Immature: The immature Greater
Yellowlegs is browner and somewhat darker on wings and upper parts than
winter adult. Fine breast streaking.
Text by Mary Jean Rogers, West Volusia