Mobile bird identification
Bird Field Guide


Gallinago gallinago
Waders Menu
Order: Charadriiformes

Family: Scolopacidae

Genus:  Gallinago

Species: G. gallinago
Video of a Snipe. Note the cream stripes up the birds back.
When disturbed the Snipes rolls from side to side in flight with quick flicked wing beats forming a zigzag flight pattern. For this reason it was known to be very hard to shoot and a good marksman would often be called a 'Snipe shot'.
Note the distinctive broad cream stripes down the birds back. The bill of the Snipe is extraordinarily long.
Thanks to: (Modified)
The Snipe has a remarkable spring display called 'Drumming'. It flies high and then drops very quickly, causing two specially adapted tail feathers to vibrate. The noise created is a resonate humming, and can sound quite un-earthly especially as it frequently displays after dark. See below to listen.

The Snipe has a dark brown back with long, broad cream stripes, it's underside is white and it's breast is streaked brown. The bill is very long and straight and the head is striped with brown and cream.

Adult Male & Female
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Snipe distribution
Winter visitor
Resident bird
Passage Migrant
Summer visitor
General distribution:
A summer visitor to most of Northern and central Europe. Resident in the UK and parts of Germany, Denmark and Norway. Birds from Iceland winter in the UK.
Nests near open freshwater and brackish marshes. Tends to spread it's range when not breeding to include muddy pasture, ditches and ponds.
The Snipe is a sedentary bird often seen sitting quietly in marshy grass without moving for hours. The Snipes plumage makes it an extraordinary hard to see until it moves.
Snipe identification
Snipe in flight
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*Dark back with cream stripes
* key ID points

*Very long bill

*Barred flanks

White underside

Boldly striped head
*White trailing edge to inner wing
Snipe showing back stripes
Snipe flying
Snipe drumming
Thanks to: (Modified)