Posts Tagged 'Lesser Yellowlegs'

Reifel: August 21st 2010

With my exams finished and the summer semester all wrapped up I was free to head out birding on Saturday. After checking out the tide and finding it to be suitably out ‘till around six pm, it was an easy decision to head to Reifel Bird Sanctuary in an attempt to catch some shorebird activity on the westernmost ponds where the low water level would attract them to feed.

The action kicked off in the parking lot with two Peregrine Falcons arriving from the south. I later caught up with one of them perched atop a tree inside the sanctuary…

Undoubtedly the falcons were here for the shorebirds as well, though I’m sure they weren’t here just to watch them. These birds often sit in a location with a good field of view and wait for an injured or sometimes overtly conspicuous bird to make itself known; most other birds are allowed to continue without contest (1). I did not get to witness either of the falcons attempt a capture but the shorebirds and waterfowl were quite skittish and frequently took flight to change location within the ponds.

Lesser Yellowlegs were the predominant species of shorebird at the tidal ponds. Greater Yellowlegs, Long and Short-billed Dowitchers, Stilt Sandpipers, and Red-necked Phalarope were also present; all actively engaged in finding food.

The three Stilt Sandpipers spent most of their time foraging with the Dowitchers where their rapid “stitching” feeding motions could be directly compared with the slower “sewing machine” action of the Dowitchers. Both species would often associate in a loose, line abreast formation and proceed forward together. As the line moved ahead each bird would slowly begin to break formation as, I assume, they each attempted to find a larger concentration of prey. After the flock was flushed into flight the birds would resettle, form the line again, and continue.

Another great day of birding at Reifel Bird Sanctuary; the fall shorebird migration seems to be well underway.


  1. White, Clayton M., Nancy J. Clum, Tom J. Cade and W. Grainger Hunt. 2002. Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: