A medium-sized wader, the snipe lives in marshes, wet grassland and moorlands where they nest by scraping a small hole in the ground for their eggs. They use their long, probing bill to find insects, earthworms and crustaceans in the mud, typically swallowing prey whole. During the breeding season, the males can be heard making a unique ‘drumming’ sound as their tail feathers vibrate in the wind during rapid descents in flight displays.
Fairly unmistakeable. The larger woodcock is a bird of woodlands while the Snipe is found on grasslands and moorlands and is smaller with a shorter bill. Snipe are brown with an intricate pattern of black and gold stripes and bars and a stripy-brown and gold head. They have short, greyish-green legs and a very long, straight bill.
Length: 25-27cm Wingspan: 46cm Weight: 110g Average Lifespan: 3 years
Classified in the UK as an Amber List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review.
Widespread, a fairly uncommon breeding bird but common winter visitor, found on wet grassland and marshes.
When to see
January – December
Snipe have a flexible tip to the beak which is also full of nerves: they can feel for worms deep underground and then open the end of their beak to grab them.