Greater Yellowlegs in Florida and Utah

Pair of Greater Yellowlegs running across the sandPair of Greater Yellowlegs running across the sand – Nikon D200, f9, 1/750, ISO 320, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light

Greater Yellowlegs are a medium sized shorebird with long yellow legs, long necks, white rumps and tails and long slightly decurved bills. I have photographed Greater Yellowlegs in Florida and Utah but they don’t breed in those locations, they are just migrating through or overwintering in the case of Florida. I photographed them often in Florida and not so often in Utah.

Greater Yellowlegs at Farmington Bay WMAGreater Yellowlegs at Farmington Bay WMA – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 320, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Greater Yellowlegs habitat during breeding season includes tundra, wet bogs, marshes and muskegs in Canada, southern Alaska and a tiny area in Washington State. They winter as far south as Tierra del Fuego in the southernmost part of Chile.

Greater Yellowlegs resting in a lagoonGreater Yellowlegs resting in a lagoon – Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/180, ISO 250, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light

In Florida I photographed Greater Yellowlegs along the Gulf coast, saltwater marshes and in lagoons. More often than not I photographed them while they were on or near the shore while I knelt low in the lagoons or saltwater marshes or by sand crawling on my belly towards them while they fed along the shoreline of the Gulf. Because I made myself “small” and low and moved towards them very slowly the yellowlegs were very relaxed in my presence sometimes to the point of falling asleep as I photographed them.

An alert Greater YellowlegsAn alert Greater Yellowlegs – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/2000, ISO 320, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Here in Utah I photograph Greater Yellowlegs most often in the marshes of Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and Farmington Bay WMA as they migrate through and stop over in the marshes around the Great Salt Lake to feed and rest. I usually photograph Greater Yellowlegs from inside a vehicle by using it as a mobile blind to get close to the birds because they are a bit more skittish and wary of humans here. I’ve also seen them on the shoreline of the Great Salt Lake itself but the images I have taken of them there are from a long distance and thus aren’t high quality.

I expect to see Greater Yellowlegs soon because they are one of the first shorebirds to migrate through Utah on their way to their breeding grounds.

Life is good.


I have also seen and photographed Greater Yellowlegs in Montana.


  1. Utahbooklover February 25, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    Outstanding images, I especially liked the first one (in step together) and the last one (on alert). Thanks!

  2. Stu February 25, 2017 at 11:30 am

    True Excellence Mia..

  3. Patty Chadwick February 25, 2017 at 11:03 am

    Also really, really like composition with the spikey grass clump and watercswirls in the second, the blurry reflection and peeking eye in the third and everything about the last…a beautiful series!

  4. April Olson February 25, 2017 at 10:46 am

    Beautiful photos as usual. even while sleeping it is keeping it’s eye on you. I have not been photographing birds as long as you have I am still a newbie. No time in the past, I spent 10 years rehabbing birds and small mammals in all my spare time. It seems like last year we had more yellowlegs in northern Utah than previous years.

  5. Patty Chadwick February 25, 2017 at 10:32 am

    I really enjoyed these images, especially the choroegraphed pair in the first,mand the information in your comments. We see yellowlegs here,in the Great Swamp,too…not sure if they are Greater or Lesser…or both.

  6. Allen Boynton February 25, 2017 at 8:53 am

    Beautiful photos and blogging, Mia!

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