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    Wilson's Snipe

    ID Info
    Silhouette ShorebirdsShorebirds

    Wilson's Snipe

    Gallinago delicata
    • ORDER: Charadriiformes
    • FAMILY: Scolopacidae
    Basic Description

    Though the long tradition of “snipe hunt” pranks at summer camp has convinced many people otherwise, Wilson’s Snipes aren’t made-up creatures. These plump, long-billed birds are among the most widespread shorebirds in North America. They can be tough to see thanks to their cryptic brown and buff coloration and secretive nature. But in summer they often stand on fence posts or take to the sky with a fast, zigzagging flight and an unusual “winnowing” sound made with the tail.

    More ID Info
    image of range map for Wilson's SnipeRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

    Find This Bird

    The old practical joke of a snipe hunt involves getting someone to wait out in a marsh at night, holding a bag, with promises of flushing a snipe into the bag. We don’t recommend this technique for seeing snipe: a much better way is to look for the birds in open wetlands during spring and summer. Listen and watch for their aerial winnowing displays, performed high in the sky by fast-flying, swooping birds. When they’re not flying, these birds often perch and call from fence posts and other exposed spots. In migration and during winter, carefully scan the edges of muddy ponds, ephemeral pools of rainwater, ditches, small streams, and other such places. As you walk, you might flush a snipe unexpectedly from close by and hear its raspy call as it takes off. These birds tend to be most active around dawn and dusk.

    Other Names
    • Agachona Norteamericana (Spanish)
    • Bécassine de Wilson (French)
    • Cool Facts