The Audubon website gets off a funny when it jokes that the two species of Yellowlegs, Greater and Lesser, “were put on earth only to confuse birdwatchers.” I’ve photographed what I thought were Greater Yellowlegs several times here. This particular bird today strikes me as just a bit more delicate, and its bill just a hair shorter, than these others, so I’m putting my two cents on Lesser Yellowlegs.
The bird was working the mud on the north side of the Schoolhouse Creek channel in a moderate low tide. Occasionally it flew off and foraged on the north side of the Virginia Street Extension seawall, but then came back to the sunnier slope of the creek.
Like Willets, Black Oystercatchers, Spotted Sandpipers and some other birds, this Yellowlegs occasionally dips its body and hikes its head, for no reason obvious to us featherless bipeds.
The Yellowlegs, Greater and Lesser, spend the summers up north in the boreal forests. They are here as migrants, snowbirds, looking for relief from the frost and ice in their breeding grounds.