Greater Yellowlegs: A Lifelister

greater yellowlegs pocasset II
We spotted this Greater Yellowlegs from the car as we were headed to Monk's Cove in Pocasset. Even though I had never seen one before, I didn't have a hard time identifying the species. I have seen plenty of pictures of Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs in my 3 books on shorebirds (thank you, Melinda, for my birthday book!), so even though I have never seen one in person, I knew this bird was one for my life list!

greater yellowlegs pocasset III
It is easy to see why I had no trouble recognizing the species. His most striking and noticeable feature was his intensely bright yellow legs!

greater yellowlegs pocasset IV
It was more difficult to determine which of the two Lesserlegs species he belonged to. My first clue was his size. He was pretty large for a shorebird, more Willet-sized (or Marbled Godwit-sized, according to my husband!)than sandpiper sized.

greater yellowlegs pocasset V
My second big clue was the size of his bill. The Greater Yellowlegs has a long, thin bill (approximately 1.5 times the length of his head) that is slightly upturned. If this was a Lesser Yellowlegs, would have a shorter bill (about equal to the length of his head), and it would be straight without any curve. This bird's long and upturned bill, in conjunction with his large size, identified him as a Greater Yellowlegs to me!

yellowlegs pocasset 2
In case you have any doubt about how yellow his legs were, this slightly overexposed shot will give you a good idea. Pretty cool, right?


  1. Very COOL Susan. Congrats on these excellent shots of your most recent lifer. FAB.

  2. Congrats - and good ID by studying the bird. A key shorebird to know.


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