Unsorted Wild Birds

Jack Snipes

The Jack Snipes, Lymnocryptes minimus, is a small stocky wader. It is the smallest snipe and the only one in the genus Lymnocryptes which is quite distinct from other snipes or woodcocks (Thomas et al., 2004).

Distribution / Range

Their breeding habitat is marshes, bogs, tundra, and wet meadows with short vegetation in northern Europe and northern Russia. They nest in a well-hidden location on the ground, laying 3-4 eggs.

Jack Snipes are migratory, wintering in Great Britain, Atlantic and Mediterranean coastal Europe, Africa, and India.

The Jack Snipe is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.

Diet / Feeding

These birds forage in soft mud, probing or picking up food by sight. They mainly eat insects and earthworms, also plant material.


They are difficult to see, being well camouflaged in their habitat.

Adults are smaller than Common Snipe and have relatively shorter bills. The body is mottled brown on top and pale underneath. They have a dark stripe through the eye. The wings are pointed and narrow, and yellow back stripes are visible in flight. When seen, the distinctive bobbing movement, as if the bird is on springs, has an almost hypnotic quality.

The head pattern of the Jack Snipe differs from Common Snipe and other species in the genus Gallinago, in that there is no central crown stripe; instead, there are two pale lateral crown stripes, which are separated from the supercilium (line above the eye) by an area of dark plumage.

The male performs an aerial display during courtship and has a song like a galloping horse. It is silent in winter.

Jack Snipe can be secretive on their wintering grounds, and as a result, are difficult to observe. As a result of this, birdwatchers have developed a specialised technique for finding the species. This involves walking through its marshy habitat until a bird is disturbed and flies up.

Jack Snipe will squat down and not flush from cover until the intruder is within a metre of the bird. They then fly a short distance before dropping back into vegetation.


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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