Common Snipe, Gallinago gallinago
Size: L: 27 cm. Wt: Males: 130 g. Females: 115 g. Males and females are similar in colour; males somewhat larger than females. This species is not seasonally dimorphic.
Adult: wings black, with fine, white feather-tips; back blackish-brown, with distinctive white line demarcating back from wing; head with two broad, blackish stripes on crown, buffy stripe over eye, dark stripe through eye, dark stripe across lower cheek; neck and breast dark buff, with heavy black streaking; flanks whitish, with even, vertical black
barring; belly white; tail chestnut, with black and white bands at tip; bill long, heavy, brownish; legs greenish; feet with long toes
Nestling: precocial and downy; down rufous overall, with blackish markings and heavy white speckling over head, back, and wings; irregular black lines through eye and across cheek, meeting both in front and behind eye; bill blackish; legs grey
The Common Snipe breeds throughout Canada, except in the high arctic, and throughout most of the northern United States. Year-round populations exist in the mid-west United States, and in southern British Columbia. Wintering migrants can be found along the western United States coastline, and throughout the southern and eastern United States, south of Pennsylvania. Wintering birds also travel deep into Mexico.
The Common Snipe is a common breeding resident on Lakes Superior and Huron, becoming rarer on the lower Great Lakes. It is a common migratory species, and a rare Female Common Snipe are promiscuous early in the breeding season, but become monogamous later on. Preferred nesting habitats include wet, grassy areas from tundra to lowlands. The female builds the nest in a small clump of vegetation, molding the nest cup from dead grasses, leaves, or moss. The nest is lined with fine, dead grass. Four brownish or olive, dark brown-spotted eggs are laid, and are incubated by the female for 18 to 20 days. The young are precocial, and remain under the care of both parents for about 20 days before fledging. Interestingly, male and female Common Snipe do not alternate parental care, but instead divide the brood, each adult tending half of the young.
winter resident on Lake Erie.
The Common Snipe feeds mainly on insects and earthworms, but will also eat crustaceans, mollusks, and a small amount of vegetable matter. Fly and beetle larvae are particularly important for this species.When it eats foods with hard parts, it egests these parts in the form of pellets.Young snipe eat the same foods as their parents, and feed on their own.
The Common Snipe is a popular bird for sport hunters, and its populations are generally better-monitored than those of other shorebirds.
Hunting for Snipe
with a bag limit of 10 birds per day. The season is 15 September to 10 February.