Weekend Birding: Wilson’s Snipe
Within the next few weeks the majority of the fall migrants will have departed Illinois for their winter residences. While most of the warblers have already moved on, I’m still seeing a lot of sparrows and an occasional unexpected visitor like the Rusty Blackbird, which is currently on the Audubon Watchlist for vulnerable species.
Last week I literally stumbled across a snipe. This is another bird I did not expect to see at a small pond along a nature trail in a residential area. I had left the main path and was walking through the brush towards the pond and came within a few feet of stepping on it. It’s color blended so well I didn’t see the bird until it flushed out of the grass. When I saw that long beak I knew it wasn’t one of the usual residents. Of course I wasn’t leaving until I found the bird and eventually I located the snipe who was standing on the far side of the pond almost out of range of my zoom lens.
A Snipe is a medium-sized shorebird and is common over most of North America. It spends the summer in Canada and the northern US and migrates to the southern US and Mexico for the winter. It’s a year-round resident in a few areas in the northwest.
- The Wilson’s Snipe is one of the few shorebirds that can still be hunted legally.
- An elusive bird that’s difficult to hunt, the snipe led to the use of the word sniper in terms of a sharpshooter in the early 19th century.
- The clutch size of the Wilson’s Snipe is almost always four eggs. The male snipe takes the first two chicks to hatch and leaves the nest with them. The female takes the last two and cares for them. Apparently the parents have no contact after that point.
- The Common Snipe is found in Europe and Asia and looks almost identical the North American Wilson’s Snipe. Until recently they were considered the same species.
Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books. Visit her blog to see more great photos or add your own.
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