Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo by Jim Weis
Photo Courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Wilson's snipe, Gallinago delicata, breeds at northern latitudes of North America, and migrates to areas south to the equator for winter. Populations that breed at the southern edge of the species' breeding range, however, are not migratory, but are year-round residents of the same area. This bird occurs throughout the year in northern Utah (which is on the southern edge of the species' breeding range), and during the winter in southern Utah.

Wilson's snipe feeds primarily on immature insects that it finds by probing moist soil. Interestingly, sensory pits at the end of the snipe's bill allow prey to be detected. During the breeding season, males typically establish territories before females arrive. To advertise territories, males produce sounds with their tail feathers during flight displays, a behavior called winnowing. Nesting usually begins in March, though late nesting through August by yearlings has been documented. Females scrape small hollows in the ground and line them with dry grasses. Sometimes three, but usually four, eggs are laid and incubated by the female alone for 18 to 20 days. Young leave the nest almost immediately after hatching, and are able to feed on their own within a few days. Young are able to fly after 19 or 20 days.


  • Mueller, H. 1999. Common snipe (Gallinago gallinago). Birds of North America 417: 20 pp.

  • Baicich, P. J., and C. J. O. Harrison. 1997. A guide to the nests, eggs, and nestlings of North American Birds, Second Ed. Academic Press, San Diego. 347 pp.