This long-billed, streaked and striped, cryptically brown and skulking wader is familiar over much of the World. The populations in South America and much of South-Eastern Africa are sedentary but birds breeding in Northern parts of Europe, Asia and North America traverse Southwards to winter in most of the other temperate and tropical areas.
The darting flight of these birds when flushed make them prized gamebirds even though they are so small. They feed by digging their bills into marshy grassland to find worms and other invertebrates. They are very active at dusk and at night and have large eyes. Apart from they sharp, harsh flight call on being flushed they have a variety of breeding calls and a flying display, drumming, which uses the specially modified stiff outer tail feather. These are extended sideways and vibrate to give an eerie wailing sound.
Snipe used to breed extensively in lowland Britain but drainage has forced them out. There are still some 30,000 pairs breeding in Britain and Ireland.
Brown streaked wader with a long bill and jinking flight.
Length 260 mm Closed wing 134 mm Weight 105 gms
A Bird On! Sketch by Chris Mead
Copyright © 1996 by Jacobi Jayne & Company and Chris Mead