by Kyle Sweet, Sanctuary Golf Club Superintendent
The Lesser Yellow legs is in the Sandpiper family and is found in marshes, mudflats, along the shoreline and in ponds throughout Southwest Florida during the winter months. They are common in freshwater sites but are also seen in our coastal estuaries.
They forage in very shallow water, probing just below the waters surface at insects, small fish, crustaceans and various larvae of aquatic insects.
The Lesser Yellow legs nest site is on open ground, typically in a dry site and sometimes quite far from the water. The nest consists of a shallow depression, sparsely lines with leaves and grass. Downy young are able to leave the nest soon after hatching and are tended to by both parents, but feed themselves and are able to take flight as early as 18-20 days.
They are are long distance migrants and follow the migration pattern of traveling north concentrated on the interior of North America and spreading across the continent as they return south. The Lesser Yellow legs is one of the earliest fall migrants.
Shorebirds can be difficult to identify, often looking very much alike. Key identifiers of this bird are the small head combined with the bright yellow legs and a fairly long, thin bill.
Learning shorebirds is a challenge and a “post” review of the bird following a good photo session is a great way to learn. Click away with the camera and research away with a good reference book or online research to become a shorebird “pro”! There are great shorebird sighting opportunities all around the islands and you’ll enjoy it more and more with the knowledge to identify our island inhabitants. Enjoy!