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The Ivory Bill·Birds·Shorebirds

Greater Yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca

Greater yellowlegs foraging in the shallows among reeds.

Greater Yellowlegs are wading birds that breed in the boreal and subarctic wetlands of North America, from late May to July.

During the breeding season, these birds are commonly found in shallow freshwater habitats such as ponds, marshes, and wet meadows. Their diet primarily consists of aquatic invertebrates, including insects, crustaceans, and small fish, which are abundant in these wetland environments during the summer months.

Greater Yellowlegs forage in the shallows, using their long bills to probe the mud and water for prey. They also feed on small fish, amphibians, and occasionally berries.

These birds are known for their long legs and bills, which are adaptations that enable them to wade in deep water and reach their prey. They are highly skilled at detecting movement in the water, allowing them to capture prey with precision.

During courtship, Greater Yellowlegs engage in elaborate aerial displays and vocalizations. Males perform flight displays to attract females, and both sexes participate in courtship rituals, which include postures and calls.

Nest building takes place on the ground, often near water. They create shallow scrapes lined with leaves, twigs, and grasses, blending with the surrounding vegetation.

After laying their eggs, usually four in number, incubation is primarily the female’s responsibility, lasting about three weeks. Once hatched, the chicks are precocial, covered in down feathers. Their initial diets consist of small invertebrates and aquatic insects provided by their parents.

As the chicks grow, they learn to forage under the guidance of the adult birds, acquiring skills for capturing prey in the wetland habitats.

Chick fledging typically occurs after three to four weeks, but adult supervision continues as the young birds refine their foraging techniques and expand their diet to include larger prey items like small fish.

Greater Yellowlegs embark on migrations in late summer and fall, using the Atlantic Flyway for their southward journey. They spend the winter months in countries along the eastern coast of North and South America, such as the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, and parts of South America.

During the winter, they frequent coastal habitats like estuaries, mudflats, and lagoons. Their diet shifts to include a variety of small fish, crustaceans, and marine invertebrates available in these habitats.

Greater Yellowlegs begin their northward migration in late February to early March, returning to their breeding grounds in the boreal and subarctic wetlands of North America for another nesting season.