Common Snipe

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Common Name: Common Snipe
Scientific Name: Gallinago gallinago

Size: 9 – 11 inches (23-28 cm)

Habitat: Eurasia & North America: Breeds extensively across northern Europe and Asia, then winters in parts of Europe, north Africa, and across southern Asia. Nearly always in marshes, wetlands, flooded fields, and moist grasslands. Regularly appears on Aleutian Islands of Alaska

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: 6,300,000 to 8,100,000. Due to maintained and increasing populations, the Common Snipe’s conservation rating is “Least Concern”.

Diet: Inserts, primarily earthworms by foraging in the mud for food.

Nesting: Nests of the Snipe are hidden on the ground under low vegetation. Their clutch size is almost always four eggs. When the first two chicks hatch, the male takes them from the nest and cares for them. The last two chicks to hatch are cared for by the female. The two groups do not interact after they part.

Cool Facts: The Common Snipe may also be called the “Fantail Snipe”, and is a stocky shorebird.

The male Common Snipe performs "winnowing" displays during courtship, circling high then diving, producing a distinctive sound as the air flows over specially modified tail feathers. This behavior has given rise to the Finnish name, "Taivaanvuohi", or "sky goat", because the sound is similar to the sound a goat makes.

Myths, Stories & Legend: Ever been on a “Snipe” hunt? A snipe hunt, a form of wild goose chase that is also known as a fool's errand, is a type of practical joke that involves experienced people making fun of newcomers by giving them an impossible or imaginary task. The origin of the term is a practical joke where inexperienced campers are told about a bird or animal called the snipe as well as a usually ridiculous method of catching it, such as running around the woods carrying a bag or making strange noises. The “real” snipe (a family of shorebirds) is difficult to catch for experienced hunters, so much so that the word "sniper" is derived from it to refer to anyone skilled enough to shoot one.

In the most popular version of the snipe hunt, especially in the American South, a newcomer is taken deep into the woods late at night and told to make a clucking noise while holding a large sack. The others, who are in on the joke, say that they will sneak away and then walk back towards the newcomer, thereby driving snipes towards the bag holder. The frightened snipes, they say, will be attracted to the clucking noise and easily caught in the bag. The newcomer is then simply left in the dark forest, eventually to realize his gullibility and find his way home or back to camp.

Found in Songbird ReMix Birds of Legend

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