Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo Courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

The greater yellowlegs, Tringa melanoleuca, breeds in Alaska and Canada, and winters from the southern United States to the southern tip of South America. It is a common migrant through Utah, and is rarely found in winter in the southwest corner of the state. The breeding habitat of this species is muskegs, bogs, and open woods, but in other seasons it inhabits a variety of wetland habitats including marshes (both coastal and inland), mudflats, lakes, ponds, and flooded agricultural fields. The diet of this sandpiper consists mainly of aquatic insects but also includes small fishes, mollusks, worms, frogs, tadpoles, and crustaceans.

The nest is on the ground, often a depression in moss or peat. Usually four eggs (sometimes three, rarely five) are incubated for twenty-three days, probably by both parents. The young are precocial - they leave the nest very soon after hatching and feed themselves. They are tended by both parents. The young begin to fly at twenty-five days, and at four or five weeks of age they are able to fly well.


  • Elphick, C. S., and T. L. Tibbits. 1998. Greater yellowlegs. Birds of North America 355: 1–23.

  • Baicich, P. J., and C. J. O. Harrison. 1997. A guide to the nests, eggs, and nestlings of North American birds. 2nd ed. Academic, San Diego. 347 pp.

  • Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder’s handbook[:] a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon & Schuster, New York. xxx + 785 pp.