Thursday, April 11, 2013

Lesser Yellowlegs foraging in a flooded field...

The sky was gray as the late afternoon sun faded away behind heavy clouds, but not even the approaching gloom could dim the spectacular yellow color of the legs on a Lesser Yellowlegs as he picked through the shallow waters of a flooded field at Voice of America (VOA) MetroPark...

Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)
A Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) forages in the shallow waters of a flooded field at VOA MetroPark in West Chester, Ohio.

Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)
A Lesser Yellowlegs has his eye on something...
Is that a Lesser Yellowlegs or Greater Yellowlegs? I'm pretty sure this guy is a Lesser. He didn't seem tall enough to be a Greater. The best way to tell Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs apart is to look at their height, bulk, and the length of their bill. Lessers are about 10 inches tall and have dark bills about the same size as their heads. Greaters are about 14 or 15 inches tall and have slightly upturned bills a little longer their heads. Greaters are more bulky as well.  

Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)
The water in the flooded fields wasn't that deep, but it was perfect for Lesser Yellowlegs. Earlier I saw this fellow nab a small crawdad (aka crawfish or crayfish) and there were empty crawdad shells scattered all over the fields where the water had receded. Maybe he has his eye on another?
Where did all of those crawfish shells come from? To grow larger, a crawfish must shed its shell and grow a new one. It may do this ten to fifteen times in its lifetime. After it molts, it is very soft, so it pumps itself up with water to gain girth and make lots of room for the new shell to form. Crawfish are mature at two years and can live up to seven years (click here for more information on crawfish).

Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)
The classic profile of this beautiful bird...

Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)
 A Lesser Yellowlegs foraging in a vernal pool in late afternoon light.


A Lesser Yellowlegs gets ready to nab dinner while "fishing" in a vernal pool at VOA MetroPark.
...watch out crawdad!

10 comments:

Jenny said...

Such graceful looking birds and you got some great shots Kelly! I saw one over here in Britain a month or so ago. I hope it makes it back to where it should be!

Montanagirl said...

I think I have photos of one of those I took outside of town at the Slough - maybe last year. I'll have to go look! Nice photos, Kelly!

TexWisGirl said...

we get yellowlegs here, once in a while. i always have a hard time determining which one they are. but based on your photos, i think we must get greaters here. :)

Mary said...

Wonderful photos of it! I can never be sure whether they are greater or lesser....don't see enough to really know them that well, but really love seeing any of the sandpipers.

Guy said...

Hi Kelly

Them is some yellow legs. I really liked the subtle shading and spotting you captured in your photos.

Regards
Guy

Janice K said...

Their legs look so spindly, yet they can balance just fine on only one of them! Great pictures!

Debbie Miller @HooootOwl said...

Love those bright yellow legs, such a beautiful bird. It sure was focused on the crawdad or whatever under the water .. wonderful images!

Elaine said...

Lovely series of shots, Kelly! We get the Lesser Yellowlegs here during the summer. We've still got lots of snow and very little melt, as spring went on hold this last week. It's due to warm up above freezing, maybe by Monday. In the meantime the only migrating birds I've seen are Snow Buntings. Three Canada Geese showed up last week at Creamer's Field, but I think perhaps they were advance scouts who went back and told everyone else to hold up a bit. So far no more have arrived. Maybe in the next few days.....

Frank said...

A lovely series Kelly of this delightful wader. A fairly rare visitor to the UK so I have to go back 10 years for my only sightings of Lesser and Greater during a birding trip to the US.

Kelly said...

....thanks, everyone!! We loved watching these two yellowlegs. They were always moving and seemed so graceful on their gangly legs!