Common Snipe A Snipe is any of nearly 20 very similar wading bird species characterised by a very long slender bill and cryptic plumage. Snipes in the family Scolopacidae belong either to the small genera Coenocorypha (the New Zealand snipes) and Lymnocryptes or to the about 15 typical snipes in the genus Gallinago. The latter are the closest relatives of the woodcocks, whereas the small genera represent earlier divergences in the snipe/woodcock clade (Thomas et al., 2004). The three species of Painted Snipe are not closely related to these and are placed in their own family, the Rostratulidae.

They search for invertebrates in the mud with a “sewing-machine” action of their long bills.

Most have distinctive displays, usually given at dawn or dusk.

English manuscripts dating from the 15th century indicate that the bird was originally called a “style” (Austin, 1888).

Some snipe species have been hunted for food and sport since the invention of the shotgun. They can be extremely difficult targets, confounding even very skilled hunters with their erratic flight, their unexpected flushes, their excellent natural camouflage, and the treacherous and difficult terrain they typically inhabit.

The elusive nature of the snipe is well-known among hunters. In the days of market hunting, the most skilled hunters of all would often bring many Common Snipe to market earning the moniker “sniper” as a badge of respect for the difficulty in shooting this amazing little bird. The term has evolved into the modern usage of sniper, referring to a skilled antipersonnel sharpshooter. In addition, the often unsuccessful nature of a snipe hunt led to the practical joke of the same name.


Genera and species are:

    • Coenocorypha



      • † North Island Snipe Coenocorypha (aucklandica) barrierensis



      • † South Island Snipe Coenocorypha (aucklandica) iredalei




      • Campbell Island Snipe Coenocorypha sp.



      • † New Caledonia Snipe Coenocorypha sp.


      • † Norfolk Island Snipe Coenocorypha sp.




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