FWS Focus


Lesser Yellowlegs are medium-sized, slender, long-legged shorebirds. Sexes are similar in plumage and overall size, but females have slightly longer wings on average. In breeding plumage, upperparts mottled gray-brown, white, and black. Underparts white with brown streaking on neck and breast and irregular, blackish barring on anterior flanks. In nonbreeding plumage, upperparts uniform gray to gray-brown with pale spots (most evident on wing-coverts). Underparts white with fine gray streaking on neck and breast. In autumn, juveniles resemble basic adults. However, they are browner above with more regular and profuse pale spotting on upperparts as well as indistinct streaking on breast. First winter birds are separated from adults by pale versus dark brown notching on tertials. The long legs of this species are yellow year-round for all age classes.

References cited in Species Profile

  • Bannerman, D. A. 1961. The birds of the British Isles. Vol. 9. Oliver & Boyd, Edinburgh, Scotland.
  • Clay, R.P., A.J. Lesterhuis, and S. Centron. 2012. Conservation Plan for the Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes). Version 1.0. Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, Manomet, Massachusetts.
  • Irving, L. 1960. Birds of Anaktuvuk Pass, Kobuk, and Old Crow: A study in Arctic adaptation. U.S. Natl. Mus. Bull. 217.
  • Prater, A. J., J. H. Marchant, and J. Vuorinen. 1977. Guide to the identification and ageing of Holoarctic waders. Field Guide 17, B. Trust for Ornithol. Tring, UK.
  • Sauer, J. R., J. E. Hines, J. E. Fallon, K. L. Pardieck, D. J. Ziolkowski, Jr., and W. A. Link.2012. The North American breeding bird survey, results and analysis 1966-2011. USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel. [Online.] http://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/bbs
  • Spaans, A. L. 1978. Status and numerical fluctuations of some North American waders along the Suriname coast. Wilson Bull. 90:60-83.
  • Street, J. F. 1923. On the nesting grounds of the Solitary Sandpiper and the Lesser Yellowlegs. Auk. 60:577-583.
  • Tibbitts, T. Lee and William Moskoff. 2014. Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/427

Scientific Name

Tringa flavipes
Common Name
Lesser Yellowlegs
FWS Category

Location in Taxonomic Tree

Identification Numbers



Launch Interactive Map