Common GreenshankTringa nebularia

adult, breeding
Martin Hale/VIREO
immature (1st year)
Steve Young/VIREO
adult, breeding
Jari Peltomaki/VIREO



A big shorebird, common in Europe and Asia. There it seems to fill the same niche as our Greater Yellowlegs; it is not too different in appearance, and it even sounds similar. Common Greenshanks show up in small numbers on the Alaskan islands, mostly during spring migration.

Similar Species

adult male, breeding

Spotted Redshank

The dark color of this big sandpiper makes it almost unmistakable in breeding plumage (although an oiled yellowlegs was once identified as a Spotted Redshank). The species is a rare migrant in western Alaska, and strays have shown up at scattered points elsewhere in North America -- not only on both coasts, but also at some far inland sites, such as Ohio and Kansas.

adult, breeding

Lesser Yellowlegs

At first glance, the two species of yellowlegs look identical except for size, as if they were put on earth only to confuse birdwatchers. With better acquaintance, they turn out to have different personalities. The Lesser is often at smaller ponds, often present in larger flocks, and often seems rather tame. Perhaps a more delicate bird (as it appears to be), it does not winter as far north as the Greater Yellowlegs.

adult, breeding

Greater Yellowlegs

At ponds and tidal creeks, this trim and elegant wader draws attention to itself by bobbing its head and calling loudly when an observer approaches. In migration, the Greater Yellowlegs is common from coast to coast. Sometimes it may annoy the birder by spooking the other shorebirds with its alarm calls; usually it is a pleasure to watch as it feeds actively in the shallows, running about on trademark yellow legs.


iPad Promo