Nova Scotia Hunter Safety Course


Common Snipe


Snipe also belong to the sandpiper family and are common in marshes and bogs and on stony riverbanks. It is found in most of North America. The snipe’s breeding area ranges throughout much of Canada and the northern United States. During the fall, the snipe migrates to winter in the southern United States and the Gulf of Mexico.

The common snipe is approximately 25 to 30 cm long, including the flesh coloured, browntipped bill. The legs and feet are greenish-grey or yellow green.

Body colour consists of broad blackish crown stripes and also a dark stripe through the eye and a patch on the lower cheek. The back and wings are dark with lines along the sides of the back. The breast has dark streaking and the belly is white from the lower breast to the vent. The sexes are similar in plumage but the female is heavier and has a longer bill.

In the field the common snipe is identified by its rapid and irregular wing beat, its fast flight and the rasping “kzrrt” sound it makes in flight.

Like woodcock, common snipe arrive at the breeding grounds from mid to late May. Males arrive 10 to 14 days before females to establish territories and begin the spectacular bleating or winnowing displays often heard at dusk and on moonlit nights.

The female usually lays 4 eggs and incubates them for 19 days. The male will lead the newly hatched chicks away and raise them himself. The snipe’s diet consists largely of insects and their larvae, earthworms and mollusks.