Common Snipe

Gallinago gallinago




Sandpipers, Phalaropes (Scolopacidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Olive brown with brown and black marks

Number of Eggs:

2 - 4

Incubation Days:

18 - 20

Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

On ground in wet fields or marshes with tussocks.

Nest Material:






Common Snipe: Longest-billed of all snipes but best identified by the broad white stripe at the base of the underwing. Upperparts cryptically colored with brown and yellow-brown streaks of many different shades. Underparts white but strongly suffused with orange wash and heavily barred and streaked with dark brown. Sexes similar. Juvenile nearly identical to adult but wing coverts more strongly fringed creating a scaly appearance.

Range and Habitat

Common Snipe: Breeds extensively across northern Europe and Asia, and then winters in parts of Europe, North Africa, and across southern Asia. May nearly always be found in marshes, wetlands, flooded fields, and moist grasslands. Individuals regularly appear on Aleutian Islands of Alaska during its migration.

Breeding and Nesting

Common Snipe: Male performs elaborate aerial courtship flights in the evening, making winnowing sound by rushing air through specially modified outer tail feathers. Female builds nest on ground among dense grasses or sedges. Female incubates two to four brown and black marked, olive brown eggs for 18 to 20 days. Male lures newly hatched chicks out of nest and feeds them separately while female continues incubating remaining eggs. Young make their first flight at 20 days.

Foraging and Feeding

Common Snipe: Slow moving and creeping along ground in hunchbacked posture as it probes into soil and mud with its very long bill searching for earthworms and insect larvae. Finds food by touch with its highly sensitive bill. Often vibrates bill while probing to startle worms into moving. Usually feeds at dawn and dusk, often in groups where food plentiful.


Common Snipe: Hoarse grating "scaap" notes while perched, courtship flights produce quavering hoots made by air rushing through tail feathers "huhuhuhuhuhuhu." Display song is "te-ke-te-ke."

Similar Species

Common Snipe: Wilson's Snipe has much less orange wash on breast, and black-and-white stripes at base of underwing are of equal width.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
Wing covertsX
The feathers that cover and protect the flight feathers.
Outer tail feathersX
The tail feathers farthest from the center.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X