Tringa flavipes - (Gmelin, 1789)
Lesser Yellowlegs
Other Common Names: Maçarico-de-Perna-Amarela
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Tringa flavipes (J. F. Gmelin, 1789) (TSN 176620)
French Common Names: petit chevalier
Spanish Common Names: Patamarilla Menor, Pitotoy Chico
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.100017
Element Code: ABNNF01030
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Shorebirds
Image 7632

© Larry Master

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Charadriiformes Scolopacidae Tringa
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. [as modified by subsequent supplements and corrections published in The Auk]. Also available online: http://www.aou.org/.
Concept Reference Code: B98AOU01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Tringa flavipes
Taxonomic Comments: Most classifications regard greater (Tringa melanoleuca) and lesser yellowlegs (T. flavipes) as closely related species; however, some evidence suggests that the yellowlegs are not sister taxa (Tibbitts and Moskoff 1999). Recent phylogenetic analysis supports placing greater yellowlegs as a sister species to spotted redshank (T. erythropus), with lesser yellowlegs among an unresolved group of other tringines, including marsh sandpiper (T. stagnatilis), common redshank (T. totanus), and common greenshank (T. nebularia) (Chu 1995, Tibbitts and Moskoff 1999).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 10Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 25Nov1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Large nesting range in North America; large population size; some evidence indicates declining abundance; better information on trend and threats is needed.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5B,N5N (05Jan1997)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N4N5B,N5M (25Jan2018)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (S4N), Alaska (S5B), Arizona (S4M), Arkansas (S4N), California (SNA), Colorado (S4N), Connecticut (SNA), Delaware (SNA), District of Columbia (S3N), Florida (S4N), Georgia (S5), Idaho (S2M), Illinois (SNA), Indiana (SNA), Iowa (S5N), Kansas (S4N), Kentucky (SNA), Louisiana (S5N), Maine (S4N), Maryland (S1N), Massachusetts (S4N), Michigan (SNRN), Minnesota (SNRM), Mississippi (SNA), Missouri (SNA), Montana (SNA), Navajo Nation (SNA), Nebraska (SNRN), Nevada (S4N), New Hampshire (SNA), New Jersey (S4N), New Mexico (S4N), New York (SNRN), North Carolina (S3N), North Dakota (SNA), Ohio (SNA), Oklahoma (S5N), Oregon (SNA), Pennsylvania (SNA), Rhode Island (SNA), South Carolina (SNRN), South Dakota (SNA), Tennessee (S5N), Texas (S5), Utah (SNA), Vermont (SNA), Virginia (SNA), Washington (S4N), West Virginia (SNA), Wisconsin (SNA), Wyoming (S4N)
Canada Alberta (S5), British Columbia (S4S5B), Labrador (S3M), Manitoba (S5B), New Brunswick (S4M), Newfoundland Island (S3M), Northwest Territories (S3S4B), Nova Scotia (S3M), Nunavut (S3B,S3M), Ontario (S4B,S4N), Prince Edward Island (S3M), Quebec (S3B), Saskatchewan (S5B,S5M), Yukon Territory (S4B)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Breeding range extends from north-central Quebec to western Alaska and from the southern portions of the Prairie Provinces to northern Mackenzie (Tibbitts and Moskoff 1999); unconfirmed breeding reported south to southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. During the nonbreeding season, this species occurs mainly from the southern United States (Texas, Louisiana, Florida, South Carolina) south through Middle America, West Indies (present all year in Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands), and South America (to Tierra del Fuego); the major coastal nonbreeding areas in South America are the Guyanas, especially Suriname (Morrison and Ross 1989); uncommon but regular in Hawaii. Nonbreeders may summer in the winter range.

Area of Occupancy: >12,500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: With an estimated global population of half a million, area of occupancy should be much greater than 20,000 kilometers.

Number of Occurrences: > 300
Number of Occurrences Comments: This species is represented by a large number of occurrences (subpopulations). Population estimates for the 2000 - 2005 timeframe is about 400,000 individuals (Morrison, et. al. 2006).

Population Size: 100,000 - 1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Global population estimated at 500,000 individuals (range 300,000-800,000; Morrison et al. 2001, Sinclair et al. 2004).

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Many to very many (41 to >125)
Viability/Integrity Comments: The distribution of this species across northern Canada and Alaska should provide a substantial number of good EOs.

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Potential or localized threats include habitat degradation on breeding and wintering grounds, exposure to contaminants, and sport hunting.

DEGRADATION OF HABITAT: In some areas this species is threatened by habitat loss from development (e.g., wetland drainage) or alteration as a result of road construction or agricultural practices. However, this species will nest along seismic lines, in agricultural fields, and along roadsides, suggesting it can adapt to habitat change (Tibbitts and Moskoff 1999). Many wetlands along migratory routes and wintering areas were destroyed or manipulated in the early 1900s; wooded wetland habitats in Central and South American wintering range continue to be altered and lost at considerable rates (Tibbitts and Moskoff 1999).

CONTAMINATION: Birds may be exposed to oil, pesticides, and other contaminants in estuaries, flooded agricultural fields, and sewage lagoon habitats (Tibbitts and Moskoff 1999). During a five-year study (1967-1971) on the effects of the organochlorine aldrin on rice fields in the Texas Gulf coast, twelve birds were found dead of aldrin-dieldrin poisoning. Tissues collected from several birds near Corpus Christi, Texas contained relatively high levels of selenium. Elevated levels of the organochlorine DDE were found in tissues of migrant birds collected in Peru, Ecuador and Costa Rica (Tibbitts and Moskoff 1999).

HUNTING: During the early twentieth century, lesser yellowlegs was a popular game species; large numbers were harvested at many migration and wintering sites (Tibbitts and Moskoff 1999). After the passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (1927), shorebird hunting declined throughout North America; however, as recently as 1991, several thousand lesser yellowlegs were still being shot annually by sport hunters in Barbados; a few birds were shot illegally each fall (1976-1989) at a site in British Columbia; and several recent observations of crippled birds or birds missing feet and legs in Alaska and British Columbia may be attributed to hunting (Senner and Howe 1984, Tibbitts and Moskoff 1999).

Short-term Trend: Decline of <30% to relatively stable
Short-term Trend Comments: Information on trends is mixed. A significant decline (-17.1% per year, P < 0.00, n = 29 routes) was recorded between 1980 and 2004 along Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) routes throughout North America (Canada, the conterminous U.S., and Alaska) (Sauer et al. 2005). However, the BBS is not an ideal survey method for this species. Migration counts from Ontario also indicate a downward trend; between 1976 and 1997, the annual rate of change for lesser yellowlegs migrating through eastern Canada was -7.13% (P < 0.13, n = 22; Ross et al. 2001). In contrasts, Christmas Bird Count data suggest an increase (1959-1988) in the U.S. wintering population, particularly in Florida (see Sauer et al. 1996 in Tibbitts and Moskoff 1999). Trends for wintering populations outside the United States are unknown (Tibbitts and Moskoff 1999). The latest 10-year period for BBS (2002 - 2012) has a 1.19% annual decline (Sauer, et. al. 2014).

Long-term Trend: Decline of >90%
Long-term Trend Comments: Historically this species was much more abundant prior to exploitation through sport hunting during the late 1800s into the early twentieth century (Bent 1927), although this trend was likely only a local phenomenon. Birdlife International (2014) has noted an almost 95% decline in North American over the last 40 years, alhtough this data represents less than 50% of the species range in North America.

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Not intrinsically vulnerable
Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: There is little evidence that this species has any vulnerability that is faced by almost all animals (e.g., climate change, habitat destruction, development)

Environmental Specificity: Moderate. Generalist or community with some key requirements scarce.
Environmental Specificity Comments: Breeding in the high northern latitudes represent a key requirement that may be threatened long-term.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Standardized programs to monitor population size should be established and/or continued at representative breeding, migration, and wintering areas (Tibbitts and Moskoff 1999). The accuracy of BBS trend data for detecting Lesser Yellowlegs population trends should be evaluated. Important migratory stopover and wintering areas used by specific populations need to be identified; fidelity to these sites should be determined (Tibbitts and Moskoff 1999).

Protection Needs: None other than appropriate management of the habitats upon which this species is dependent.

Distribution
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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Breeding range extends from north-central Quebec to western Alaska and from the southern portions of the Prairie Provinces to northern Mackenzie (Tibbitts and Moskoff 1999); unconfirmed breeding reported south to southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. During the nonbreeding season, this species occurs mainly from the southern United States (Texas, Louisiana, Florida, South Carolina) south through Middle America, West Indies (present all year in Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands), and South America (to Tierra del Fuego); the major coastal nonbreeding areas in South America are the Guyanas, especially Suriname (Morrison and Ross 1989); uncommon but regular in Hawaii. Nonbreeders may summer in the winter range.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NN, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY
Canada AB, BC, LB, MB, NB, NF, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2002; WILDSPACETM 2002


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
ID Ada (16001), Bingham (16011), Blaine (16013), Boundary (16021), Camas (16025), Fremont (16043), Jefferson (16051), Nez Perce (16069)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
17 Lower Kootenai (17010104)+, Idaho Falls (17040201)+, Upper Henrys (17040202)+, American Falls (17040206)+, Beaver-Camas (17040214)+, Camas (17040220)+, Little Wood (17040221)+, Lower Boise (17050114)+, Clearwater (17060306)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A medium-sized shorebird.
Reproduction Comments: Eggs are laid usually mid-May to late June. Both sexes, in turn, incubate 4 eggs for 22-23 days (Terres 1980). Precocial young are tended by both parents, can fly at 18-20 days. Tends to nest in loose colonies (Hayman et al. 1986).
Ecology Comments: Nonbreeding: often in loose flocks.
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: Y
Mobility and Migration Comments: Migrates regularly throughout North America south of breeding range and eastward (AOU 1983). Seen along U.S. coast during northward migration in April-May; in Canada, migrates primarily through interior in spring (Godfrey 1986). In fall many migrate farther east than they do in spring, reaching eastern Canada and Atlantic states; some of these may then fly nonstop to South America (see Johnson and Herter 1989). Southward migration begin early July, continues into October (Hayman et al. 1986). Migrates through Costa Rica August to mid-October and March-early May (Stiles and Skutch 1989). Reaches South America by early August, most depart by mid-April (Hilty and Brown 1986).
Estuarine Habitat(s): Herbaceous wetland, Lagoon, Tidal flat/shore
Lacustrine Habitat(s): Shallow water
Palustrine Habitat(s): Bog/fen, FORESTED WETLAND, HERBACEOUS WETLAND, Riparian, TEMPORARY POOL
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Grassland/herbaceous, Tundra, Woodland - Conifer
Habitat Comments: Nonbreeding: marshes, ponds, wet meadows, lakes and mudflats (AOU 1983), coastal salinas. Nests in muskeg country, to edge of tundra, in marshes and bogs, clearings or burned-over sections of black spruce forest. The nest is a depression in the ground. It may be located on a slope, far from water (Terres 1980).
Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore
Food Comments: Feeds mainly on insects (e.g. beetles, dragonfly nymphs, grasshoppers, flys, etc) small crustaceans, bloodworms, spiders, and some small fishes. Forages by snatching prey with bill.
Adult Phenology: Circadian
Immature Phenology: Circadian
Phenology Comments: Foraged with comparable frequency during day and night in northeastern Venezuela (Robert et al. 1989).
Length: 27 centimeters
Weight: 81 grams
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Biological Research Needs: Reasons for the observed decline should be investigated. Breeding ecology needs study; long-term research is needed on breeding behavior, habitat use, breeding success, survival, and productivity (Tibbitts and Moskoff 1999). More information is needed on effects of habitat alteration. Studies that measure habitat requirements during migration and on wintering grounds are needed. The magnitude of hunting and exposure to contaminants on the nonbreeding range should be assessed (Tibbitts and Moskoff 1999).
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Shorebirds

Use Class: Breeding
Subtype(s): Feeding Area, Breeding Site
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical breeding, or current and likely recurring breeding, at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of one or more breeding pairs in appropriate habitat. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.
Mapping Guidance: Breeding occurrences include nesting areas as well as foraging areas of nesting adults and broods. Because separations are based on nesting areas, the foraging areas of different occurrences may overlap if nesting birds are traveling to distant places to feed.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance pertains specifically to nesting areas, not to locations of dispersed foraging individuals. For example, nesting areas separated by a gap of more than 5 km are different occurrences, regardless of the foraging locations of individuals from those nesting areas.

The separation distance is an arbitrary value; it is impractical to attempt to delineate shorebird occurrences on the basis of dispersal patterns or metapopulation dynamics. Foraging ranges of some nesting shorebird species (see following) may suggest use of a larger separation distance, but this likely would result in occurrences that are too large and less effective for conservation planning.

Separation distance based on larger 'typical' breeding home ranges with diameters of 1.5 to 3 kilometers. Semipalmated Plovers have breeding home ranges up to 3 square kilometers, i.e. a diameter of just under 2 kilometers (Nol and Blanken 1999). Red-necked Phalaropes have a core home range of 1-3 hectares, but occasionally travel 1.5 kilometers to feed (Rubega et al. 2000). Stilt Sandpipers can forage up to 8 kilometers from nest (Jehl 1973). Mountain Plovers have an average home range of 56.6 hectares (Knopf 1996) but broods typically move 1-2 kilometers shortly after hatching (Knopf and Rupert 1996).

Territories: Common Snipe, 6.4-28.6 hectares (Mueller 1999); Long-billed Dowitcher, 100-300 meter diameter (Johnsgard 1981); golden-plovers, average 10-59 hectares (Johnson and Connors 1996); Long-billed Curlew, 6-20 hectares (Johnsgard 1981).

Nesting densities: Black-bellied Plover, 0.3-2.3 pairs per square kilometer (44 ha per pair at latter density; Hussell and Page 1976, Parmelee et al. 1967); Marbled Godwit, maximum density 1 pair/32 hectares (Stewart and Kantrud 1972).

Foraging distances: Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, up to 13 kilometers from nest (Elphick and Tibbits 1998, Tibbits and Moskoff 1999).

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): 1.5 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: Based on a smaller 'typical' home ranges (see Separation Justification).
Date: 25Mar2004
Author: Hammerson, G., and S. Cannings

Use Class: Migratory stopover
Subtype(s): Roost, Foraging concentration area
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of recurring presence of migrating flocks (including historical); and potential recurring presence at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of 25 birds in appropriate habitat (minimum can be reduced in the case of rarer species). Occurrences should be locations where the species is resident for some time during the appropriate season; it is preferable to have observations documenting presence over at least 7 days annually. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single events.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance somewhat arbitrary; set at 5 kilometers to define occurrences of managable size for conservation purposes. Occurrences defined primarily on the basis of areas supporting concentrations of foraging or roosting birds, rather than on the basis of distinct populations.
Date: 15Apr2002
Author: Cannings, S.

Use Class: Nonbreeding
Subtype(s): Roost, Winter Feeding Area
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of recurring presence of wintering flocks (including historical); and potential recurring presence at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of 25 birds in appropriate habitat. Occurrences should be locations where the species is resident for some time during the appropriate season; it is preferable to have observations documenting presence over at least 20 days annually. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single events.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance somewhat arbitrary; set at 5 kilometers to define occurrences of managable size for conservation purposes. Occurrences defined primarily on the basis of areas supporting concentrations of foraging or roosting birds, rather than on the basis of distinct populations.
Date: 25Mar2004
Author: S. Cannings
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 18Jul2014
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Jue, Dean K.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 15Feb1990
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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