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Lesser yellowlegs        Images © Mark A. Chappell

Lesser yellowlegs are common in winter in the continental US and put on a somewhat brighter breeding plumage during the spring and summer.  They nest in wet boreal forests and spend a lot of time perched high in spruce trees, as some of these birds are doing.   Nesting birds will protest vigorously if an intruder (such as a person) gets anywhere near their nests.   Lesser yellowlegs are rather similar to their larger relative, the greater yellowlegs, but have a shorter bill relative to head size.   One of these images shows a lesser yellowlegs in front of two greater yellowlegs, and the size difference is apparent.  Also, the two species have different alarm calls:   the lesser typically gives a two-note call while the greater gives three or more notes.   The photos of the breeding plumage birds were taken at Twin Lakes, near Churchill, Manitoba and in Anchorage, Alaska; the winter-plumaged individuals were photographed in late summer at the San Jacinto Wildlife Area near Riverside, California.

  • Canon 10D, 1D4, or 7D2; 500 mm f4 IS + 1.4X converter or 800 mm IS lens plus 1.4X converter, many with fill-in flash (2003, 2010, 2011, 2015, 2017)