Greater Yellowlegs / Lesser Yellowlegs (Seen in The Woodlands, TX)

Greater Yellowlegs Greater Yellowlegs

Those bright long yellow legs help to differentiate them from most other shore birds.  If these birds are together, the greater is larger of course! But if you see just one bird, how do you tell if it's "greater" or "lesser" ?? According to John Tveten: "Imagine folding back the bill at its base so that it projects backward through the eye. If the tip would just reach the back of the head, the bird is a lesser; if the bill would project well beyond, it is a greater."

Lesser Yellowlegs  
Spotted Sandpiper (Seen in The Woodlands, TX)
Spotted Sandpiper, breeding colors Spotted Sandpiper, winter colors
Ruddy Turnstone
Least Sandpiper (Seen in The Woodlands, TX)
Short-billed Dowitcher / Long-billed Dowitcher
Short-billed Dowitcher  
Sanderling, winter colors

8-inch shorebirds, black bills and legs, light grey on top and white below. The palest of our winter sandpipers.

Sanderling, breeding plumage
Long-billed Curlew
This is our LARGEST shorebird, and its down-turned beak can be over 8 inches long, allowing it to get crustaceans deeper than other sandpipers can reach.  
While other sandpipers head north to breed, the Willet remains in Texas. In winter colors (above) this plump (15") sandpiper is gray above, white below, with gray-blue legs.  He has a thick gray bill.