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Wilson's Snipe

Gallinago delicata

Length: 10 inches Wingspan: 18 inches Seasonality: Summer / Migrant
ID Keys: Long bill, longitudinal stripes on head, barring on flanks, short legs.

Wilson's Snipe - Gallinago delicataThe Wilson's Snipe is a secretive, usually solitary bird of dense freshwater marshes and brushy streamsides.  During breeding season, they are most often seen when disturbed, and flush in a quick, zig-zag flight.  However, they can be quite tame and approachable in migration through the state.  The extremely long bill has a flexible tip which is used to forage for prey as it probes in soft mud.  They were formerly known as the Common Snipe, but were split from a very similar Eurasian species after they were found to be distinct. 

Habitat: Freshwater marshes, brushy borders of ponds and streams.

Diet: Takes large numbers of insects, insect larvae, and earthworms.  Also crustaceans, mollusks, frogs, tadpoles, leeches, and some vegetation.

Behavior: Uses its flexible and sensitive bill tip to probe in mud, capturing food underground.  Will also collect food items from the ground, foliage, or the water's surface.

Nesting: May and June.  The nest is a shallow scrape on the ground, on which the female builds a shallow bowl of fine grasses and other vegetation. Two to four eggs are laid, with the female incubating the eggs. The young hatch after about 20 days.

Song: Produces non-vocal "winnowing", a hooting trill in flight caused by vibrations of outer tail feathers. 

Migration: Summers throughout much of Canada, Alaska, and the northern U.S.  Winters from the southern half of the United States all the way through South America.

Interactive eBird map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Wilson's Snipe sightings

Similar Species: American Woodcock, Long-Billed Dowitcher, Short-Billed Dowitcher.

Conervation Status: Widespread and fairly common, although its secretive nature makes status somewhat unknown in areas.  Loss of habitat has hurt populations in some areas, and there are indications that overall populations are in decline. However, they are still extremely numerous and are found over a wide geographic area.  The IUCN considers the Wilson's Snipe to be a species of "least concern".

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Wilson's Snipe

2) Cornell Lab of Ornithology - Wilson's Snipe

3) WhatBird - Wilson's Snipe

Photo Information: April 12th, 2003 -- Madison Waterfowl Production Area -- Terry L. Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Wilson's Snipe photos.

 

Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Wilson's Snipe - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Common migrant statewide.  Uncommon summer breeding resident.  Local in winter.

Additional Wilson's Snipe Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
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