Common Snipe

Last updated on November 17th, 2023 at 06:56 pm

The Common Snipe is a wader. She has pale and dark brown striped and mottled upperparts plumage. The underparts are white with black stripes on the flanks. Breast is buff, mottled with brown. The tail is tawny, finely barred with black. Wings are long and pointed. The head has distinct scratches.

Common Snipe
Scientific name : Gallinago gallinago
Family :Scolopacidae
Long. de 25 à 29 cm, Env. de 37 à 46 cm
Weight : de 80 à 120 gr


The Common Snipe quickly gains height, zigzagging over a long distance with powerful and vigorous flight before alighting in cover. It flies in flocks apart from its courtship flights. These flights move by rocking and spinning rapidly before landing. It flies with the beak tilted downwards.


The Common Snipe lives and breeds in wet grassy areas, at the edges of freshwater marshes and ponds, in flooded meadows, fields, and also, it can be found near salt marshes.

Regime – Diet

The Common Snipe feeds mainly on small animal prey (worms, but also insects, crustaceans, molluscs) that it captures by probing the mud. It feeds in shallow muddy waters, at the edge of lakes and ponds, near the cover of shore vegetation. The Common Snipe forages in small groups, often at dawn and dusk.


The Common Snipe is monogamous, during the courtship displays the male performs high circles and then makes spectacular dives. The zigzag flights of the male, intended to delimit the territory, produce an audible sound due to the vibration of the tail feathers.
Common Snipe’s nest is a cup-shaped depression in the ground, on short clumps of grass and under low vegetation. This one is made of fine grasses, mosses, dead leaves, and lined with soft and fine plants. It is in principle well hidden in the hanging vegetation. The female lays 3 to 5 tawny or greenish eggs spotted with dark reddish brown. Incubation lasts about 18 to 20 days, by female. The young are precocial, they are raised by both parents during the first weeks.


Once widespread in Europe, the Common Snipe has however experienced a rapid decline since the 1980s. The drainage of swamps, the construction of canals, intensive agriculture or urbanization near its habitat are factors contributing to its population decrease. Bird classified in a poor state of conservation, but which is (alas) still huntable in France.

Other Links

  • You can see the article from my site “Birds of Camargue” for more information on the Camargue and the Birds.

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