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Great snipe bird: description, habitat, species features, reproduction, life cycle, characteristics and features
Great snipe bird: description, habitat, species features, reproduction, life cycle, characteristics and features

Snipe is a small bird of the snipe family, which has several names: Latin, found in biology textbooks, Gallinago media, in German its name is consonant with Russian - Doppelschnepfe. It is also called whitecap. Belongs to the order Charadriiformes.

Some people confuse this representative with snipe, but if you look closely, you can notice a number of differences, which we will consider below in the article. Also, the reader will learn the features of the life cycle of the great snipe bird with a photo and description of its distinctive features and behavior during the mating season. We will also surprise you with the results of research by Swedish ornithologists, who brought this representative of birds to the first place among other migratory birds.


Outwardly, the great snipe bird really has a great resemblance to snipe. The same brownish-brown stripes on the head, runningfrom the beak to the crown, however, the abdomen is not white, like that of a snipe, but all in spots resembling ripples running across the body. A striking difference between these two species is the presence of three extreme white tail feathers in the great snipe, occasionally with grayish ripples. This is especially noticeable in a bird that has just taken off from the ground.

white snipe feathers

A great snipe (white cap) has a shorter but stronger beak. The coloration of females and males is identical. Experienced ornithologists distinguish them by their mass and by the size of their wings during takeoff. Females are slightly larger than males in weight, but the wing size of males is longer, as is the beak. We present the research data in the table below:

Sizes male female
weight (grams) 130 - 205 160 - 230
body length (cm) 24 - 31 24 - 31
wingspan (cm) 43 - 48 43 - 48
wing length (cm) 13 - 14 12, 5
tail length (cm) 5 - 6 5
beak length (cm) 6 - 7 6

The great snipe bird takes off a little hard compared to its relative, but the flight is smooth and long. The beak has a dark brown color, turning into a yellowish tint closer to the base. Juveniles differ from adults only in the absence of the white part of the tail feathers, they have it with black mottled spots. The size of a great snipe bird resembles city pigeons, only the beak is longer.


The great snipe is distributed throughout Eurasia from the countries of the Scandinavian Peninsula to the banks of the Yenisei River. However, in Central Europe it can rarely be found, therefore, in Belarus and Ukraine, it was included in the list of endangered species in the Red Book. In Asian countries, these birds are occasionally found, several meetings have been recorded even in India. In Russia, its numbers are sufficient, so they are even hunted, but the numbers also suffer from human activities to drain the swamps.

Great snipe Belokuprik

The great snipe bird settles in meadows with high humidity, loves swampy places with low vegetation, river banks with willow or alder. In autumn, the seasonal migration of these migratory birds begins, which have chosen the center and southern Africa for wintering, occasionally stopping in countries on the Mediterranean coast or on the islands of Great Britain.

Behavior and character

The great snipe bird leads a solitary life, even in autumn before flying to warmer climes you will not see numerous flocks, they fly away either alone or in the amount of 10-12 individuals. This is a shy bird that is nocturnal, can feed at dusk - before sunset and before dawn.

If someone or something frightens her, she immediately takes off, emitting a characteristic rumble with her wings. The wings lift the body quite heavily, and after 30 meters the bird descends back to the ground. The flight is low, approximately at a height of 3 or 5 meters. However, if he hears a hunter's shot, he can fly much further and hide in a clearing in the middle.forests.

What does a great snipe eat?

The diet of this bird consists of small mollusks and earthworms, which he pulls with his beak from swampy places, in soft peat. The great snipe likes both the larvae and the insects themselves. In addition to animal food, the great snipe feeds on plants. It can be found in potato and wheat fields, where birds eat seeds and grains. If the year turned out to be rainy, then the great snipe may also appear on plantations of millet and clover.

great snipes feeding

Already from the middle of summer, these birds begin to stock up on fat for a long flight to warmer climes. They fly out of their native places fat and clumsy, taking off heavily from the surface of the earth, but during the flight they completely lose their entire supply of fat, so they arrive for the winter thin and exhausted.

How does the blond sing?

You can hear the singing of the great snipe during the mating. For this purpose, males gather in large groups in clearings or open meadows. Singing consists of complex triads, crackling, whistling and ringing, which alternately replace each other. The song can last for several seconds, the sounds of the great snipe make both voice and beak crackling.

When frightened, when a bird suddenly takes off into the air, it most often does so in complete silence, occasionally emitting a dull grunt. The voice of the great snipe bird sounds like this:

"frrrrrit-titity-fiit-titity-fiit-titi-turrrrr" or "bibbe-libi-bibib".

Seasonal migration

Swedish ornithologists published quite interesting information after their research. They measuredthe speed and endurance of birds during seasonal flights to warm places and made an incredible discovery. It turns out that the great snipe is not only the fastest bird in the world, capable of flying at a speed of 100 km per hour, but also the most enduring.

snipe coloration

Researchers attached geolocators weighing 1.1 grams on the backs of 10 male great snipes and recorded how long it would take for them to reach their wintering grounds. It turned out that the birds flew from Sweden to wintering in the central part of Africa in three days, covering 6800 km, and, as it turned out later using satellite data, there was no tailwind on their way. In addition, it became known that the birds never touched the earth's surface, although most of the way lies on land, they did not eat or sleep during the entire flight.


Immediately after returning to their native land, birds gather in meadows and small clearings between marshes to search for a pair to mate with. Every year, mating takes place in the same places chosen by birds, although males in search of a female may travel to their neighbors, to a site nearby.

After arrival, the male chooses his own place, trampling it down with his paws. One individual may have several such leveled areas. The mating procedure begins late in the evening or early in the night. The male shows himself to the female by puffing up his chest, flapping his wings and spreading his tail like a fan, sparkling with white feathers. At the same time, it makes special sounds that resemble the impact of a metal object on a wooden surface.

wheresnipe lives

If the female shows interest, the male begins to walk around her, taking spectacular poses in his opinion. If a rival appears, then the males enter the fight, and those for whose favor the fight takes place, watch what is happening on the sidelines. The winning male mates with the chosen representative and then safely leaves the chosen one, further not participating at all in building the nest and raising the chicks.

Nesting females

The female looks for and equips a place for a nest on her own immediately after mating and mating. The nesting site is on the ground, usually in thick grass or shrubs on a dry piece of land. A small depression, approximately 3.5 cm, is lined by the female with dry grass or soft moss. The size of the nest itself has a diameter of 14 cm. Usually, the clutch is demolished once a year, but if the nest is devastated by predators, then a second one is possible. The first takes place in the second half of April.

great snipe breeding

The eggs of the great snipe have a dirty brown color and a pear-shaped shell, with grayish spots. There can be no more than 4 eggs in a clutch, weighing 23 grams. Only the female incubates them for three weeks. Another two weeks will pass before the chicks are covered with feathers. They grow and develop quite quickly, since after a month they fly perfectly after their mother from place to place in search of food. During this period, they are compared with it in size, but are nearby for up to 45 days. In the photo, the great snipe bird is shown together with a small chick whose plumage colorhides it as much as possible in the surrounding area, making it hardly noticeable to predators.

Life of chicks

The grown chicks leave their mother at the end of July or at the beginning of the last month of summer. They fly to open meadows and fields, coastal strips of rivers and hummocky swampy places, where there is a large accumulation of various insects, snails, worms and other small living creatures that these birds love so much. However, if the summer is rainy, and the banks of the rivers are flooded with water, then they are transported to the sowing fields of oats or flax, eating their grains. They love growing clover.

Chicks are eating their fill, preparing for a long-distance flight. Already by the beginning of September, they gradually begin to fly off to wintering grounds. Individual great snipes can be found as early as October. It has been observed that they fly off alone or in small groups only at night, so the departure of these birds occurs imperceptibly, however, as well as their return.

Hunting great snipes

Great snipe meat is quite tasty and tender, so hunters are looking forward to the start of the hunting season. Due to the fact that the population of these birds is decreasing every year due to human activities, it is allowed to hunt them only with the onset of August, when the chicks have already grown up and gained the necessary mass for the flight.

Hunting great snipes is easy, as the bird flies in a straight line and quite low above the ground. A special feature of whitecuprik is its aging. They can sit in one place for a long time without moving and take off almost from under the feet of a person, they are able to hide from dogs in bushes or tall grass in the hope that they are notnotice.

great snipe flight

It is considered good luck to find one squirrel, as there are usually several more lurking nearby. Even a beginner hunter won't come home without a bag full of shot prey.

The article gives a complete description of the great snipe bird or, in other words, the snipe with photographs and interesting information. Despite the fact that the bird on the territory of Russia has not yet been included in the Red Book, you need to follow the rules and do not hunt during the prohibited period of mating and raising offspring.

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