RSPB
Skip navigation

Conservation status: Amber

Snipe are medium sized, skulking wading birds with short legs and long straight bills. Both sexes are mottled brown above, with paler buff stripes on the back, dark streaks on the chest and pale under parts. They are widespread as a breeding species in the UK, with particularly high densities on northern uplands but lower numbers in southern lowlands (especially south west England). In winter, birds from northern Europe join resident birds. The UK population of snipe has undergone moderate declines overall in the past twenty-five years, with particularly steep declines in lowland wet grassland, making it an Amber List species.

Illustrations

Overview

Latin name

Gallinago gallinago

Family

Sandpipers and allies (Scolopacidae)

Where to see them

During the breeding season snipe are best look for on moorland, especially on early spring mornings when males can be heard giving their 'drumming' or 'bleating' display. In winter, look patiently around the edges of pools in well-vegetated wetlands.

When to see them

All year round

What they eat

Small invertebrates, including worms and insect larvae.

Population

EuropeUK breeding*UK wintering*UK passage*
-80,000 pairs1.1 million birds-

Distribution

Key

Audio

Patrik Aberg, Xeno-canto

Similar birds