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Learn about the Common Snipe Bird

Updated on May 26, 2018 | Source

The Snipe (Gallinago Gallinago)

The medium-sized snipe bird (also referred as the common snipe) is of the order Charadriiformes and in the family Scolopacidae, known as the sandpiper family. The snipe bird is a round and dumpy wading bird and has short legs and a long pointed bill. The upper sections of the bird are dark brown and has markings with striking black and white bars. The tip of the snipe is flexible and sensitive. The bird's head is decorated with bold black and white stripes, therefore it is easy to distinguish a snipe amongst other bird species, especially the remarkable long bill which gives its unique identity. Further features, the belly and throat are whitish, but the snipe's breast has smooth brown chevron (V-shaped line) bars.

The bird can also fly, and during its flight, the pointed wings displays a white edge and its tail seems to appear short and round. Also in flight, the feathers of the tail vibrate and this vibration produces a drumming or bleating noise, which can be heard in low flight. The back of the snipe has a double chevron marking in white. Inasmuch the snipe is a shorebird, it somewhat resembles the American woodcock (Scolopax minor). The snipe is sometimes regarded as a game bird and sport hunters often favor them for hunting.

The main diet of the snipe consists of worms, snails, crustaceans, spiders, earthworms and insects. Some plant matter and seeds is also eaten by the snipe. As a matter of fact, its unique long pointed bill assists the snipe in its search for food as it digs into the ground. The courtship display involves great climbs assisted by very fast wing beats and then dives with the outer tail feathers spread.

Original source -
Original source - | Source

The snipe's nest is located on the ground and usually concealed, and the clutch consists of four eggs, and they are usually greenish to brown and blotted with grey and brown. The eggs are incubated by the female snipe and the baby chicks are fed by both parents. The chicks usually hatch after 18-20 days and also the young chicks begin to fly in three weeks time. The male snipe attracts the female by flying and diving in the air and making drumming noises with the tail feathers. Both the male and female have similar behavior, and they usually remain hidden in the grass or other places, plus they are good at camouflaging. However, if the birds are aware of danger, or if they sense predators, they will pop out from the hidden area and fly swiftly in the air in an unusual zig-zag pattern. Snipes will also give out a harsh call to warn other snipes of any danger approaching.

In general, and in addition, the snipe's habitat is mainly inland water such as lakes or shallow pools. It also prefers to inhabit in lagoons and marshlands, basically anywhere where it can probe the mud and soft surface with its long pointed bill. The snipe measures on average 27 centimeters in length, and weighs around 105-110 grams. The snipe breeds throughout northern Europe and many of them from Scandinavia and north-eastern Europe where they migrate to the southern regions. It also breeds from Alaska to Newfoundland in North America, and also in Asia and northern Africa. A similar specie to the common snipe is the Jack snipe (Lymnocryptes minimus) of the same order, but this specie is smaller with a shorter bill.


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    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      8 years ago

      This is very well done. Althought, it reminds me of the jokes we used to play in Indiana on tourist of the "snipe" hunting game. Thanks for the history and education of this bird.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      8 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I have snipes in my area of the US, too. Thanks for the good info. Great work!


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