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The Ivory Bill·Birds·Shorebirds

Lesser Yellowlegs, Tringa flavipes

Lesser yellowlegs preening itself on a sandy wetland shore, a kingfisher perched in the distance

Lesser Yellowlegs are slender shorebirds that breed in the boreal and subarctic wetlands of North America, typically from late May to July.

During the breeding season, these birds are commonly found in shallow freshwater habitats such as bogs, marshes, and grassy wetlands. They primarily feed on a variety of aquatic invertebrates, including insects, small crustaceans, and worms.

Lesser Yellowlegs forage in the water, using their long, slender bills to probe the mud and shallow waters for their prey. They are skilled at detecting the movements of hidden aquatic invertebrates, enabling precise capture.

These birds possess distinctive yellow legs and bills, which are adaptations for wading in water and capturing their prey efficiently.

During courtship, Lesser Yellowlegs engage in elaborate aerial displays, showcasing their agility in flight and vocalizing to attract mates. The courtship rituals often include postures, flights, and calls.

Nest building takes place on the ground, close to water sources. They create shallow scrapes lined with grasses, leaves, and other vegetation, providing a concealed location for their eggs.

After laying typically four eggs, incubation duties fall primarily on the female, lasting about three weeks. Once the chicks hatch, they are precocial and covered in down feathers. Their initial diets consist of small aquatic invertebrates and insects, supplied by the attentive parents.

As the chicks grow, they learn to forage under the guidance of the adult birds, honing their skills in capturing prey in the wetland habitats. The parents protect them from predators and help them develop their hunting techniques.

Chick fledging typically occurs around three to four weeks after hatching, but adult supervision continues as the young birds refine their foraging abilities and broaden their diet to include a wider variety of aquatic invertebrates and small crustaceans.

Lesser Yellowlegs embark on their southward migration in late summer and fall, utilizing the Atlantic Flyway. They spend the winter months in various countries along the coasts of North and South America, including the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, and parts of South America.

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

Lesser Yellowlegs typically 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.