Odd Design

Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca)

If you were designing a shore bird and were given a requirement for long legs, you’d endow it with a long bill, wouldn’t you? Look at the Curlew and the Marbled Godwit. Long legs, long bill. Makes sense. But here’s the Yellowlegs. Long legs, very long, so long that they’re in the bird’s name. But short bill. Poor bird doesn’t stand a chance at mudpecking in competition with other long legged birds. It doesn’t even penetrate as deep as the very short legged Least Sandpipers. Instead, it ambles along looking for things to eat that lie on the surface. Stuff that everyone else has missed. It’s a wonder that it’s survived. Part of its secret is that it chooses to breed up in the boreal forests of Canada in places super-dense with mosquitoes and their larvae, which are easy pickings. Down here on migration it must barely get by, nutritionally.

I’m calling this a Greater Yellowlegs in the spirit of kindness. The Greater and the Lesser Yellowlegs look so much alike that you really need to see two of them side by side to distinguish them. This bird was here all alone. It seems mean to call it “lesser” without cause.

Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca)

More about them: Wikipedia Cornell Audubon In Chavez Park

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