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© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, M. & W. von Wright (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Great Snipe

Gallinago media

  • Family: Sandpipers – Scolopacidae
  • Appearance: Larger and stockier than Common Snipe. Belly covered with lateral streaks. Dark patches under wings and many white markings along edge of tail. Flight slower and more stable than rapidly zigzagging flight of Common Snipe.
  • Size: Length 26–30 cm, wingspan 43–50 cm, weight 140–260 g.
  • Nest: On a sedge tussock, lined with dried grass.
  • Breeding: Lays 4 eggs in May. Only the female incubates, for 22–24 days. Young able to fly within 21–28 days. Fledglings leave nest immediately, and quickly learn to find food for themselves.
  • Distribution: Breeds in marshes with sedge beds, moist meadows and in the willow and birch zone of the fells of Lapland. European population has declined since the mid 19th century. Very rare in Finland, where the breeding population is estimated at just 2–17 pairs.
  • Migration: Autumn migration August–October, returning April–May. Winters in East Africa.
  • Diet: Invertebrates.
  • Calls: A faint “yeah”. Mating display calls of groups can be heard at long distances (more than 300 m) include rising and falling series of chirping calls and accelerating clicking noises.
  • Endangerment: Critically endangered in Finland. European red list status Least concern, globally Near threatened.

Great Snipes resemble Common Snipes, but can be distinguished by the striped markings that totally cover their stomachs. They also have dark underwing markings and have extensive white markings on the edges of their tails (though these white tail markings are not so prominent on young birds). Great Snipes are also larger and stockier than Common Snipes. Their legs are yellowish or greyish-green. Their beaks and irises are dark brown. They fly heavily and directly, close to the ground.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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