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Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes
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This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern. However, evidence of declines and hunting pressure in some parts of its range necessitate close monitoring of its population.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Christidis, L.; Boles, W. E. 2008. Systematics and taxonomy of Australian birds. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #
Turbott, E. G. 1990. Checklist of the birds of New Zealand. Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Wellington.

Population justification
Morrison et al. (2006) give a population estimate of 400,000 birds, with a range of 300,000-500,000. This estimate is assumed here to equate to c.270,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Data from the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) suggest that the species has undergone a large and statistically significant decrease in North America over the last 40 years (-94.9% decline over 40 years, equating to a -52.6% decline per decade; Butcher and Niven 2007); however, these surveys cover much less than 50% of the species's range in North America thus may not provide data that are representative of the overall population (G. Donaldson in litt. 2012).

Following reported declines in the wintering population of T. flavipes in Suriname since the 1970s, surveys were carried out at one site in 2008-2009 using the methods of a previous survey at the same location (Ottema and Ramcharan 2009). The results showed that numbers of T. flavipes were down by c.80% on those recorded in 2002-2003. This change is assumed by Ottema and Ramcharan (2009) to be representative of the entire coast of Suriname, based on an aerial survey of the coast in December 2008, additional ground-based observations and four surveys at another location. Ottema and Ramcharan (2009) suggest that the global population may have declined by c.75% from 2002-2003 to 2008-2009, and that the species may face extinction within 20-30 years, citing Morrison and Ross's (1989) observations from the mid-1980s that more than 70% of T. flavipes and Greater Yellowlegs T. melanoleuca wintering on the South American coast do so in Suriname. The current estimate for the combined wintering populations of T. flavipes and T. melanoleuca along the coast of north-eastern South America is 8,000, based on multiple aerial surveys (Suriname: 2008, 2011, 2014; French Guiana: 2008, 2014; Brazil: 2011, 2014), suggesting a c.90% decline since 2002-2003 (D. Mizrahi in litt. 2014). Populations in Suriname appear to have experienced the most dramatic change, with declines exceeding 96%, while populations in French Guiana (c.5,000-6,000 individuals) generally appear stable (D. Mizrahi in litt. 2014). However, on present evidence it cannot be discounted that the population is shifting its geographical preferences during the non-breeding season, either along the coast of north-eastern South America or more widely.

Declines have also been noted on St Martin since 2000-2001, with 348 counted in January 2001 and fewer than 5 birds counted each year in 2006-2011 (A. Brown in litt. 2011), and at wetlands around Bogota, Colombia, where more than 98% of habitat has been lost (O. Cortes in litt. 2012). Furthermore, a significant downward trend has been noted since 1991 in the population of this species wintering at the Salinas lagoons in south-western Ecuador (B. Haase in litt. 2011 in Clay et al. 2012). In contrast, there are no signs of a significant decline on the coast of Peru (F. Angulo in litt. 2014).

The species is known to be hunted in some parts of the Caribbean and South American coast and is the most hunted shorebird species on Guadeloupe and Martinique, where several thousand are reported to be shot each year (A. Levesque in litt. 2012). Such evidence suggests that hunting pressure is not sustainable in some years (B. Andres in litt. 2012), and studies are planned and being carried out to quantify the impact of hunting and the rate of population decline (B. Andres in litt. 2012, 2014; A. Levesque in litt. 2012). Other threats to the species include habitat loss through logging, agricultural expansion and intensification, urban development and mining, the use of agrochemicals and climate change (Clay et al. 2012).

Until further evidence is available, this species's population is suspected to be undergoing a moderate decline.

Related state of the world's birds case studies

Butcher, G. S.; Niven, D. K. 2007. Combining data from the Christmas bird count and the breeding bird survey to determine the continental status and trends of North American birds.

Clay, R. P.; Lesterhuis, A. J.; Centrón, S. 2012. Conservation plan for the Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes). Version 1.0. Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, Manomet.MA.

Delany, S.; Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

IUCN. 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2012.1). Available at: (Accessed: 19 June 2012).

Morrison, R. I. G.; McCaffery, B. J.; Gill, R. E.; Skagen, S. K.; Jones, S. L.; Page, G. W.; Gratto-Trevor, C. L.; Andres, B. A. 2006. Population estimates of North American shorebirds, 2006. Wader Study Group Bulletin: 67-85.

Morrison, R. I. G.; Ross, R. K. 1989. Atlas of nearctic shorebirds on the coast of South America. Canadian Wildlife Service, Ottawa.

Ottema, O. H.; Ramcharan, S. 2009. Dramatic decline of Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes in Suriname. Wader Study Group Bulletin 116: 87-88.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

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Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Symes, A. & Taylor, J.

Andres, B., Angulo Pratolongo, F., Brown, A., Cheskey, T., Cortes, O., Donaldson, G., Levesque, A., Mizrahi, D. & Ruiz, C.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Tringa flavipes. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

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Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Lesser yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Scolopacidae (Sandpipers, Snipes, Phalaropes)
Species name author (Gmelin, 1789)
Population size 270000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 4,590,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species