Friday, October 24, 2014

Yellowlegs Shorebirds Migrating South

 Most shorebirds have already migrated through Minnesota on their southward journey, but this Greater Yellowlegs was near the shore of the Mississippi River yesterday and allowed me a fairly close approach. It is usually difficult to get close to these birds.

This bird seemed to be resting, eating, and preening its feathers as it prepared for the next leg of its migration to the southern coasts of the United States or somewhere in Central America.

Yellowlegs nest in Canada, so we only get to see them during migration
 Here is a picture with a female Mallard Duck in the foreground for size comparison. The long bill and fairly large size differentiate this from a Lesser Yellowlegs, which also migrate down the Mississippi Migration Flyway.

The bright yellow legs are distinctive in these birds.

Here this bird is looking for food, and in the next picture is seen grabbing something only it can see under the water.
 I didn't see anything wiggling in its mouth when it came back up, so it must have eaten it while under water.  With ducks and gulls all around it, food seen in its mouth would bring other birds eager for a meal.

After eating a little, and resting, then preening, as seen in the picture below, this bird flew off to another spot for more food and rest.

Next spring it will make the return flight to Canada, passing through this same area looking for food and rest to give it the resources it needs to fly thousands of miles to its breeding grounds.

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