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Greater Yellowlegs vs Lesser Yellowlegs

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Old Saturday 22nd May 2004, 15:25   #1
Dave S
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Greater Yellowlegs vs Lesser Yellowlegs

The only book I have with info on these shows two very similar pictures, yet cites that the main distinguishing feature other than size is the lenght of the bill. Unfortunately, the photo present of the greater and lesser both have similar length bills (porportionally).

Any clues as to which one this is?:
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Old Saturday 22nd May 2004, 15:54   #2
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Looks like flavipes to me. A little hard to judge because the head is turned away and down. To eyeball this one I usually cut an immaginary line from where the forehead ends vertically on top of the bill insertion down through the chin (and so it includes the cone of the bill insertion along with the bill). Then I measure the head onto what I have cut off. The flavipes bill is about 1.25 - 1.40 X the head, anything more (usually much more because the bill is noticeably longer on melanoleuca ,about 1.65 to 1.8 X the head) is the Greater YL.
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Last edited by cuckooroller : Saturday 22nd May 2004 at 16:04.
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Old Saturday 22nd May 2004, 16:07   #3
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Hard call, but I think I'll go the other way, for T. melanoleuca - note the stout bill, with a hint of a paler base, and the fairly extensive barring on the flanks. Overall, it has the look of quite a bulky bird too, in European terms comparable to a Greenshank (same size as Greater Y'legs), not slim like a Marsh Sandpiper (same size as Lesser Y'legs). And a short primary extension, too, tho' that may not be too useful.

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Old Saturday 22nd May 2004, 16:14   #4
Rasmus Boegh
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I'm for Greater. As mentioned by Michael, note extent of the fairly heavy barring (almost stripes) on flanks. Bill is hard to call, but seems fairly heavy compared to the Lesser I have seen. This fits better with the Greater that I saw regualarly in SA, often in companionship with Lesser. Finally, dark streaks often appear much denser on the neck of Lesser. Hence, Lesser often appear to have a neck that is darker than Greater's.

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Old Saturday 22nd May 2004, 16:58   #5
cuckooroller
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I admit I'm lazy on differentiating these two and rely too much on the bill length and on this one it's not a good profile. I will have to take your indications and try to learn them as well as bill length is not enough. Will study it from my database later tonight.
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Old Saturday 22nd May 2004, 18:26   #6
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Greater Yellowlegs for me. This bird just appears too bulky as previously mentioned not to mention the strength of the bill. Lesser yellowlegs is a much slighter bird and I think the barring on the flanks clinch it.
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Old Saturday 22nd May 2004, 18:37   #7
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My immediate reaction to the bird's structure was Greater. The posts above confirm it on plumage.
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Old Saturday 22nd May 2004, 18:50   #8
Jane Turner
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Another vote for greater.... as evr with me a gut reaction based on jizz... this looks a big bird and has a hint of Greenshank to it.
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Old Sunday 23rd May 2004, 09:03   #9
Joern Lehmhus
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Having only seen both yellowlegs on drawings and photographs but not in life I got the impression that there is some similarity to Greenshank in Greater YL and some similarity to Marsh Sandpiper in Lesser YL. Therefore I would also go for Greater Yellowlegs here.
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Old Sunday 23rd May 2004, 09:23   #10
tom mckinney
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Another vote for Greater.

The bill is just too thick and not needle-like as in Lesser and, as Joern said, Marsh Sand.
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Old Sunday 23rd May 2004, 12:29   #11
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I also feel that the photo of the bird is a Greater Yellowlegs for the reasons sited above. I live on a major migratory flyway and see hundreds of Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs each year.
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Old Sunday 23rd May 2004, 12:55   #12
Charles Harper
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... I like those bill (or beak) stats, though, Steve. I wrote 'em in my book.
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Old Sunday 23rd May 2004, 13:52   #13
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Charles and All,

Isn't the first stringer for me. I'll have to get up to speed on this one! Shorebirds are certainly not my forte.
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Old Sunday 23rd May 2004, 15:40   #14
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As a couple of people have pointed out the flank barring is an easy shortcut on breeding birds like this - obvious in Greater, none or virtually none in Lesser.

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Old Sunday 23rd May 2004, 16:33   #15
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Greater

having been lucky and seen lots of both in the field in recent years I've noticed many more Lessers mistaken for Greaters than vice versa. In pix it's still tricky though for non breeders, but in real life I've found Greaters to stand out fairly well. If you're not sure in the field it's probably a Lesser.

Lessers can show quite a bit of barring on the flanks.....
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