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Wilson's Snipe

Gallinago delicata


Wilson's Snipe (Gallinago delicata) feeding at Loxahatchee NWR, Delray Beach, Florida. The bird was alone and wading among a flock of White Ibises.


Wilson's Snipe (Gallinago delicata) is a small, stocky shorebird. This species was formerly considered to be a subspecies of the Common Snipe, G. gallinago. Wilson's Snipe differs from the latter species in having a narrower white edge to the wings, and eight pairs of tail feathers instead of seven. 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. Their breeding habitat is marshes, bogs, tundra and wet meadows in Canada and the northern United States. It is a year-round resident on the Pacific coast of the United States. The eastern population migrates to the southern United States and to northern South America. It may be that global warming causes these birds to move to their breeding range earlier and leave later than 100 years ago. In Ohio for example, late April was recorded as an average migration date in 1906, but nowadays most of the local population is present on the breeding grounds by then already. These birds forage in soft mud, probing or picking up food by sight. They mainly eat insects and earthworms, also plant material. 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. The male performs "winnowing" display during courtship, flying high in circles and then taking shallow dives to produce a distinctive sound. They have been observed "winnowing" throughout the day and long into the night. The "winnowing" sound is similar to the call of a Boreal Owl. They nest in a well-hidden location on the ground. The Wilson's Snipe was reduced by hunting near the end of the 19th century and habitat destruction. However, this bird remains fairly common and not considered threatened by the IUCN. It is apparently more intolerant of habitat destruction than the American Woodcock, declining markedly when faced with large-scale draining of marshland. (credit:'...)

1 Species ID Suggestions

Wilson's Snipe
Gallinago delicata Gallinago delicata - Overview

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JackEng 9 years ago

Avinash & Liam,
Thanks for your species ID and info...

Liam 9 years ago

The Common Snipe and the Wilson's Snipe used to be conspecific, but were split into two separate species in 2002. The Common Snipe is the Eurasian counterpart and the Wilson's is the American.

Avinash Hindupur
Avinash Hindupur 9 years ago

Your description and the looks match with Common Snipe, but its an old world bird. Wondering if it was introduced in America?!

Spotted by

Delray Beach, Florida, USA

Spotted on Jan 28, 2012
Submitted on Jan 29, 2012


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