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Common Snipe

About Common Snipe

This bird is a very small wading bird with a very long, straight bill and striped plumage. Rich brown above with cream stripes; black crown with cream central stripe; sides of head brown with cream stripes above and below eye; reddish tail patch with white tip; pale, mottled breast; white belly. Pale green legs, blackish bill, and dark eyes.

This bird breeds in the spring. The female will make shallow scrape lined with grass. Then, she will lay 3-4 pale green, olive, or buff eggs, marked with shades of brown, olive, and purplish-gray, and incubated by the female alone for 18-20 days. Both parents raise the young.

Because of its plumage, the snipe can be hard to see as it hunts for worms, grubs, and other prey among the vegetation of marshes and wet grassland. It eats by standing in one place and probing many deep holes in the mud in a circle while feeling for prey with its sensitive bill tip. It is able to catch and swallow small animals without withdrawing its bill. An earthworm is brought out and immobilized by repeated hammering before being swallowed whole.

If this bird senses danger, it will lie low and will usually go undetected, but if it is approached too closely, it will explode from cover with a screeching noise and zig-zag away through the air in search of safety.