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The Ivory Bill·Birds·Shorebirds

Common Snipes, Gallinago gallinago

Snipe walking along sandy shore.

Common Snipes are shorebirds that breed in marshes, wet meadows, and bogs in temperate and subarctic regions of North America, Europe and Asia from April to August.

Common Snipes are commonly found in wetlands with dense vegetation, including reed beds and grassy marshes, where earthworms, insects, and mollusks are abundant during the breeding season.

They forage in wet meadows, marsh edges, and shallow waters for earthworms, insect larvae, beetles, spiders, and small mollusks. They may also feed on seeds and plant material.

Common Snipes have long, straight bills adapted for probing soft mud and soil to extract prey. Their cryptic plumage provides excellent camouflage among reeds and grasses.

Courtship involves males performing aerial displays, known as “winnowing,” where they fly high and then dive, creating a distinctive sound with their tail feathers to attract females. Ground displays include bowing and spreading wings.

Nests are built by females in shallow depressions on the ground, often lined with grasses, leaves, and moss. Nests are typically located in dense vegetation near water.

Egg laying occurs from April to June, with females laying 3-4 eggs. Incubation lasts about 18-20 days and is primarily done by females. Upon hatching, chicks are precocial and leave the nest shortly after to follow the female parent. Initial diets include small invertebrates provided by the female.

Chicks learn to forage under the female’s supervision, initially relying on her to find food. As they grow, they begin to forage independently but are vulnerable to predation and harsh weather.

Fledging occurs at about 20-25 days, with continued guidance from the female parent. Juvenile diets gradually expand to include a wider range of invertebrates as they develop foraging skills.

Migration begins in late summer to early autumn, with birds traveling along various flyways to wintering regions in North and South America, southern Europe, Africa, and southern Asia.

Wintering habitats include marshes, wet grasslands, and rice fields. Foraging continues in wet and muddy areas, with diets consisting mainly of earthworms, insects, and other invertebrates.

Common Snipes leave their wintering grounds in late February to early March, returning north to breeding territories.