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BC Conservation Data Centre: Species Summary

Tringa flavipes
Lesser Yellowlegs

Scientific Name: Tringa flavipes (Gmelin, 1789)
English Name: Lesser Yellowlegs
Classification / Taxonomy
Scientific Name - Concept Reference: American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. [as modified by subsequent supplements and corrections published in The Auk]. Also available online:
Classification Level: Species
Species Group: Vertebrate Animal
Species Code: B-LEYE
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Craniata Aves Charadriiformes Scolopacidae
Conservation Status / Legal Designation
Global Status: G5 (Apr 2016)
Provincial Status: S3S4B (Mar 2022)
BC List: Blue
Provincial FRPA list:   
Provincial Wildlife Act:
COSEWIC Status: Threatened (Nov 2020)
SARA Schedule:
General Status Canada: 4 - Secure (2005)
Migratory Bird Convention Act: Y
Ecology & Life History
General Description:
Global Reproduction Comments: Eggs are laid usually mid-May to late June. Both sexes, in turn, incubate 4 eggs for 22-23 days (Terres 1980). Precocial young are tended by both parents, can fly at 18-20 days. Tends to nest in loose colonies (Hayman et al. 1986).
Global Ecology Comments: Nonbreeding: often in loose flocks.
Migration Characteristics:
(Global / Provincial)
    Local Migrant:
    Distant Migrant:
    Within Borders Migrant:
N /
N /
Y /
na /
Global Migration Comments: Migrates regularly throughout North America south of breeding range and eastward (AOU 1983). Seen along U.S. coast during northward migration in April-May; in Canada, migrates primarily through interior in spring (Godfrey 1986). In fall many migrate farther east than they do in spring, reaching eastern Canada and Atlantic states; some of these may then fly nonstop to South America (see Johnson and Herter 1989). Southward migration begin early July, continues into October (Hayman et al. 1986). Migrates through Costa Rica August to mid-October and March-early May (Stiles and Skutch 1989). Reaches South America by early August, most depart by mid-April (Hilty and Brown 1986).
(Type / Subtype / Dependence)
Forest / Conifer Forest - Moist/wet / Facultative - frequent use
Forest / Mixed Forest (deciduous/coniferous mix) / Facultative - frequent use
Ocean / Intertidal Marine / Facultative - frequent use
Other Unique Habitats / Beach / Facultative - occasional use
Wetland / Bog / Facultative - frequent use
Wetland / Fen / Facultative - frequent use
Global Habitat Comments: Nonbreeding: marshes, ponds, wet meadows, lakes and mudflats (AOU 1983), coastal salinas. Nests in muskeg country, to edge of tundra, in marshes and bogs, clearings or burned-over sections of black spruce forest. The nest is a depression in the ground. It may be located on a slope, far from water (Terres 1980).
Food Habits: Invertivore: Adult, Immature
Global Food Habits Comments: Feeds mainly on insects (e.g. beetles, dragonfly nymphs, grasshoppers, flys, etc) small crustaceans, bloodworms, spiders, and some small fishes. Forages by snatching prey with bill.
Global Phenology: Circadian: Adult, Immature
Global Phenology Comments: Foraged with comparable frequency during day and night in northeastern Venezuela (Robert et al. 1989).
Provincial Phenology:
(1st half of month/
2nd half of month)
Colonial Breeder: N
Length(cm)/width(cm)/Weight(g): 27/ / 81
Elevation (m) (min / max): Global: 
Endemic: N
Global Range Comment: Breeding range extends from north-central Quebec to western Alaska and from the southern portions of the Prairie Provinces to northern Mackenzie (Tibbitts and Moskoff 1999); unconfirmed breeding reported south to southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. During the nonbreeding season, this species occurs mainly from the southern United States (Texas, Louisiana, Florida, South Carolina) south through Middle America, West Indies (present all year in Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands), and South America (to Tierra del Fuego); the major coastal nonbreeding areas in South America are the Guyanas, especially Suriname (Morrison and Ross 1989); uncommon but regular in Hawaii. Nonbreeders may summer in the winter range.
Authors / Contributors
Global Information Author: Hammerson, G.
Last Updated: Feb 15, 1990
Provincial Information Author:
Last Updated:
References and Related Literature
American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1983. Check-list of North American Birds, 6th edition. Allen Press, Inc., Lawrence, Kansas. 877 pp.
Campbell, R.W., N.K. Dawe, I. McTaggart-Cowan, J.M. Cooper, G.W. Kaiser, and M.C.E. McNall. 1990b. The Birds of British Columbia Vol. 2: Nonpasserines: Diurnal Birds of Prey through Woodpeckers. Royal British Columbia Museum, Victoria, BC.
Godfrey, W. E. 1986. The birds of Canada. Revised edition. National Museum of Natural Sciences, Ottawa. 596 pp. + plates.
Godfrey, W.E. 1966. The birds of Canada. National Museums of Canada. Ottawa. 428 pp.
Harrison, C. 1978. A Field Guide to the Nests, Eggs and Nestlings of North American Birds. Collins, Cleveland, Ohio.
Hayman, P., J. Marchant, and T. Prater. 1986. Shorebirds: an identification guide to the waders of the world. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.
Hilty, S.L. and W. L. Brown. 1986. A Guide to the Birds of Colombia. Princeton University Press, Princeton, USA. 836 pp.
Janovy, J. 1980. Yellowlegs. 192 pp.
Johnson, S. R. and D. R. Herter. 1989. The Birds of the Beaufort Sea. BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc., Anchorage, Alaska. 372 pp.
Morrison, R. I. G., and R. K. Ross. 1989. Atlas of Nearctic shorebirds on the coast of South America. Vols. 1 and 2. Canadian Wildl. Serv. Spec. Publ. 325 pp.
Morrison, R. I. G., R. E. Gill, Jr., B. A. Harrington, S. Skagen, G. W. Page, C. L. Gratto-Trevor, and S. M. Haig. 2001. Estimates of shorebird populations in North America. Occasional Paper Number 104, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, Ottawa, ON. 64 pages.
Pratt, H. D., P. L. Bruner, and D. G. Berrett. 1987. A Field Guide to the Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. 409 pp. + 45 plates.
Raffaele, H. A. 1983a. A guide to the birds of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Fondo Educativo Interamericano, San Juan, Puerto Rico. 255 pp.
Robert, M., R. McNeil, and A. Leduc. 1989. Conditions and significance of night feeding in shorebirds and other water birds in a tropical lagoon. Auk 106:94-101.
Stiles, F. G. and A. F. Skutch. 1989. A guide to the birds of Costa Rica. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, USA. 511 pp.
Terres, J. K. 1980. The Audubon Society encyclopedia of North American birds. Alfred A. Knopf, New York.
Tibbitts, T. L., and W. Moskoff. 1999. Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes). No. 427 IN: A. Poole and F. Gill, editors. The birds of North America. Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. 28pp.
Wilds, C. 1982. Separating the yellowlegs. Birding 14:172-178.

Please visit the website Conservation Status Ranks for definitions of the data fields used in this summary report.

Suggested Citation:

B.C. Conservation Data Centre. 1990. Species Summary: Tringa flavipes. B.C. Minist. of Environment. Available: (accessed Feb 6, 2023).