Sunday, 3 February 2013

Common Snipe

order : Charadriiformes      Genus & Species : Scolopacidae     Family : Gallinago gallinago

 To avoid predators, the common snipe has two highly effective formulas:

  • At ground, it lies low and relies on superb camouflage; 
  • In air, it flies in a dashing, zigzag flight.

The common snipe spends most of its time wading in boggy or marshy sites inland, probing for invertebrates in the soil, using its long bill.They found in western Europe, South America, the U.S. and southern Africa; migratory elsewhere, breeding in North America, northern Europe and Asia, and wintering farther south. 

Habitat : Basically  common snipe is a bird of waterlogged ground as it needs soil soft enough to let it probe deep beneath the surface to find food. Their usual habitat during breeding be the rich, spongy ground of peat bogs, water meadows, reed-beds, marshes and flooded fields of scrubby grass. The snipe also want dense cover nearby, patches of drier ground for nesting and ridges to use as lookout posts.
Food & Feeding : The common snipe is most active at dawn and dusk when it uses its bill to probe for food in the soil. On soft ground, the entire bill is pushed in.Worms form the largest part of the snipe’s diet, but it eats almost any small invertebrate. Small items are eaten before the bill is withdrawn, but large earthworms are pulled free before being swallowed whole. 
Behavior : In the breeding season, the snipe associates in groups, and groups of up to 500 may gather at rich feeding grounds. Most snipe are migratory and begin the journey north to breeding grounds in March. The birds reach their destination in late April or early May. At the end of the breeding season, the snipe concentrates on feeding intensively to build up its energy reserves for its journey south to warmer wintering grounds. It also molts its old flight feathers, growing a new set for the long, arduous flight ahead.
Breeding : The male is the first to arrive at the breeding grounds and begins his aerial displays to advertise his presence and claim a territory. After the arrival of the females, both sexes associate with several partners before firm pair bonds are established. The nest is a shallow scrape in the ground chosen by the female, who lines it with soft grass and disguises it with bits of vegetation. Eggs are laid at daily intervals and incubated by the female alone. But the male stays close by, and when the chicks hatch, both parents feed them, the male taking charge of the first-hatched chicks while his mate tends the remainder. The chicks develop rapidly on their diet of protein-rich worms and other invertebrates and become totally independent within about three weeks. 

Bill : The tip of the bill is flexible and can be opened while the rest of the bill remains closed. It also contains touch-sensitive organs that allow the snipe to locate buried food. 
Eyes : Set high in the skull, the eyes give good all-round vision, letting the snipe keep watch for predators while probing headdown on the ground. 
Plumage : Brown and black, streaked and mottled upperparts provide camouflage while the snipe is on the ground.Adults and juveniles are almost indistinguishable. 
Feet : Each foot has three, long, forward-facing toes bearing sharp claws and a shorter, spurlike hindtoe. 
Tail : During the male’s display flight, the two outer tail feathers vibrate, creating a loud “drumming.” 
In Flight : When forced to break cover, the snipe rises suddenly and flies on a zigzag course, turning sharply one way and then the other close to the ground. 

Weight : 3–4.5 oz. 
Length : 10-11"
Wingspan : 1.5'
Sexual Maturity : 1-2 years
Breeding Season : April–July

In a dive, the snipe’s tail feathers vibrate back and forth 11 times per second, producing a winnowing that can be heard a mile away.

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