Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)

Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)

The Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) is a small, migratory bird belonging to the family Scolopacidae. It is found throughout much of the world, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America. The Common Snipe inhabits a range of wetland habitats, including marshes, bogs, and wet meadows, where it feeds on a variety of invertebrates, such as insects, worms, and snails.

Physical Characteristics:

The Common Snipe measures around 25-28 centimeters (9.8-11 inches) in length, with a wingspan of approximately 44-47 centimeters (17-18.5 inches). It has a distinctive mottled brown and white plumage, with a long, straight bill and short legs. The bird has a relatively large head and eyes, which are located high on the skull, giving it excellent vision and the ability to see above the vegetation in its wetland habitat.


The Common Snipe feeds primarily on invertebrates, such as insects, worms, and snails, which it finds by probing the mud with its long bill. The bird also eats small crustaceans and mollusks. The Common Snipe is known for its “sewing machine” feeding behavior, where it rapidly probes the mud with its bill, pulling it up and down like a sewing machine needle.

Reproduction and Lifecycle:

The breeding season for the Common Snipe typically occurs between April and June, depending on the location. These birds are monogamous and form pair bonds that can last for a single breeding season. They build a small, scrape-like nest on the ground in a concealed location, often among tall vegetation.

The female lays 3 to 4 buff or olive-brown eggs, which are incubated by both parents for around 18-20 days. After hatching, the chicks are able to leave the nest almost immediately and are fed and cared for by both parents until they are able to fly, which typically occurs at around 20-25 days old. The young birds become fully independent within a few weeks of fledging.

Conservation Status:

The Common Snipe is currently listed as a species of “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to its wide distribution and stable population. However, the bird could face potential threats from habitat loss due to wetland drainage, pollution, and other human activities. Conservation efforts focus on habitat preservation, monitoring populations, and reducing disturbances to nesting sites to ensure the long-term survival of the species.

Updated: 20 April 2023 — 15:22

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