[birding] Ankey NWR Saturday - Hopping Greater Yellowlegs & More...

Jon oregon5949 at gmail.com
Sat Mar 9 19:27:47 PST 2013

About noon Today (Saturday), 23 Greater White-fronted Geese on the
west bank of Eagle Marsh.

Also a Golden Eagle sub adult soaring near Pintail Marsh where there
was a mix of Ruddy Ducks, Northern Shovelers, Green Wing Teal, & a
nice flock of 25 Dunlin came in while we were there.

The group had several excellent looks at a Rough-legged Hawk, down
nearby in a field & later in a 30-foot roadside tree.  This was on
Ankeny Road near the first large field on the north side, west of the

But at Pintail Marsh, there was also something quite unusual: a
one-legged Greater Yellow Legs.  I saw no hint of a second leg.  As I
watched it in my scope, it hopped, then continued to stand in place
without moving.  It was as if it wanted a slight change in perspective
for protection.  It was not feeding, more like it was skulking in
plain view.

I wondered how likely it was to see a one-legged wading bird.  I had a
one-legged Scrub Jay ("Peggy") visit my backyard for a couple of
years.  But an urban life can be tough on birds.  I asked a veteran on
the trip and we discussed it.  Here is the logic:

We've all seen birds resting on one leg.  We surmised that it was more
likely a 2-legged bird, resting on one.  Then it wanted to move a step
forward on the muddy shoreline.  So it was more efficient to hop twice
on one leg than lower it's warm foot, take a step or two, then pull it
back up.

That makes sense in terms of efficiency, but it raises what seems to
be a rather odd question:  Has anyone else seen a wading bird, hop on
one leg?

Jon Hazen
NE Salem

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