Snipe Gallinago gallinago

A medium-sized wader, the snipe lives in marshes, wet grassland and moorlands. 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.




Snipe nest by scraping a small hole in the ground for their eggs. 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. They use their long, probing bill to find insects, earthworms and crustaceans in the mud, typically swallowing prey whole.


  • 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.

Common name


Species name

Gallinago gallinago

IUCN Red List status

Least concern

When to see in Scotland

January – December

Where to see in Scotland

Scottish Wildlife Trust reserves such as Rahoy Hills or Bemersyde Moss.

Stay up to date with the Scottish Wildlife Trust by subscribing to our mailing list Subscribe now

Back to top