The Common Snipe
also called a Fantail Snipe
, or weet-weet
, ( ), is a small,
breeding habitat is marshes, bogs, tundra and wet meadows in
Iceland, the Faroes, northern
Europe and Russia.
birds winter in southern Europe and
, and Asian
migrants move to tropical southern Asia.
Adults are 23-28 cm in length with a 39-45 cm wingspan. They have
short greenish-grey legs and a very long straight dark bill. The
body is mottled brown on top and pale underneath. They have a dark
stripe through the eye, with light stripes above and below it. The
wings are pointed.
This species closely resembles the Wilson's Snipe
, G. delicata
North America, which was until recently considered to be a
subspecies G. g. delicata
of Common Snipe. The latter
differs from the North American species in having a wider white
edge to the wings, and seven pairs of tail feathers instead of
two other races of Common Snipe; G. g. faeroeensis in
Iceland, the Faroes, Shetland and Orkney, and G.
g. gallinago in the rest of the Old World.
is a taxon
to which the Agreement on the
Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds
This well camouflaged bird is usually shy and conceals itself close
to ground vegetation and flushes only when approached closely. They
fly off in a series of aerial zig-zags to confuse predators. Snipe
hunters, therefore, needed to be very skilled to hunt these birds
and they came to be called snipers
- a term later adopted by the
These birds forage in soft mud, probing or picking up food by
sight. They mainly eat insects and earthworms, also plant
The male performs "winnowing" display during courtship, flying high
in circles and then taking shallow dives to produce a distinctive sound
- which has given the
bird its Finnish
, "sky goat
", because the
sound is similar to the baaing of a goat. Common Snipe nest in a
well-hidden location on the ground.
- Carey, Geoff and Urban Olsson (1995) Field Identification of
Common, Wilson's, Pintail and Swinhoe's Snipes Birding World 8(5): 179-190
- Leader, Paul (1999) Identification forum: Common Snipe and
Wilson's Snipe Birding World
- Reid, Marin (2008) Identification of Wilson's and Common Snipe