Wood snipe

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The wood snipe (Gallinago nemoricola) belongs to the family of sandpipers, curlews and snipes, Scolopacidae.

The wood snipe species are distributed in India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam. These snipe species are characterized by a long, slender bill and cryptic plumage. These snipes are monotypic species.

Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Wood Snipe Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Wood snipe - Overview

  • Scientific name: Gallinago nemoricola
  • Species author: Hodgson, 1836
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Gallinago nemoricola Hodgson, 1836
  • Family: Scolopacidae › Charadriiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Wood snipe, Chinese: 林沙锥, French: Bécassine des bois, German: Nepalbekassine, Spanish: Agachadiza del Himalaya, Russian: Малайский дупель, Japanese: モリジシギ, Malay: Burung Berkek Kayu
  • Other names: Himalayan Snipe
  • Distribution: India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam
  • Diet and feeding habits: worms, insects, insect larvae, seeds
  • IUCN status listing: Vulnerable (VU)
The wood snipe (Gallinago nemoricola) is closely related to solitary snipe (Gallinago solitaria).

Appearance, physical description and identification

The wood snipe (Gallinago nemoricola) is a large snipe, measuring 28 to 32 cm in length and weighing 140 to 200 grams.

The upperparts of the snipe are dark yellowish brown. The head has blackish stripes. There are broad buff stripes on the mantle and the scapulars. The neck, throat and breast have rich brown barring and streaking. The underwing coverts have dark and dense bars. The wings are rounded.

The bill is relatively short and broad-based. The bill is dark buff colored at the distal end and is paler at the base. The legs are greenish gray. The irises are dark brown. Their call is a series of nasal "check-check-check" sound.
Indian birds - Image of Wood snipe - Gallinago nemoricola
Birds of India - Image of Wood snipe - Gallinago nemoricola by Henrik Gronvold

Birds of India - Image of Wood snipe - Gallinago nemoricola
Indian birds - Image of Wood snipe - Gallinago nemoricola by Michele Lamberti

Origin, geographical range and distribution

These wood snipe species are distributed in India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Laos and Vietnam. Vagrant wood snipe populations have been observed in Pakistan, Bangladesh, southern India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand.

In India, the wood snipe species occur in the states of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Utter Pradesh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

The Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA) of the wood snipe in Bhutan are Bumdelling Wildlife Sanctuary, Bumthang wetlands, Toorsa Strict Nature Reserve, Thimphu wetlands, Chele La, Paro wetlands, Kanglung wetlands, Menji wetland and Jigme Singye Wangchuk National Park.

Some of the IBA of the wood snipe in India are Buxa Tiger Reserve, Yumthang - Shingba Rhododendron Wildlife Sanctuary, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, Corbett Tiger Reserve, Dhauludhar Wildlife Sanctuary, Dombang Valley, Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary, Lhonak Valley and Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary.

The IBA of the wood snipe in China are Wolong Nature Reserve and Xuebaoding Nature Reserve. The IBA in Vietnam are Ban Bung and Fan Si Pan. The IBA in Laos is Nakai Plateau. The IBA in Myanmar is Hukaung Valley. The IBA in Bangladesh are Lawachara and West Bhanugach Reserved Forest.

The IBA of the wood snipe in Nepal are Shey-Phoksundo National Park, Sagarmatha National Park, Makalu Barun National Park, Annapurna Conservation Area, Kanchenjunga Conservation Area, Mai Valley forests and Langtang National Park.

Ecosystem and habitat

These wood snipe species have moderate forest dependency. These species occur in altitudes from 3000 to 5000 meters.

The natural ecosystems of these wood snipe species include tropical and subtropical high altitude grasslands, temperate forests, woodlands along streams, edge of evergreen forests, marshes, marshy grasslands, swampy grounds, and peatlands.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these wood snipe species is mostly worms. Insect larvae, snails, crustaceans, worms and seeds are their primary food. They slurp up invertebrates through nearly closed bill.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these wood snipe species is from April to June in much of their breeding range. They generally breed at altitudes between 3,000 to 5,000 meters, in alpine meadows, marshes with scattered low bushes and barren, boulder-strewn areas.

Migration and movement patterns

The wood snipe species are partially migratory birds.

The wood snipe species breed in the Himalayas of northern India, Nepal, Bhutan and southern China. These populations move to lower altitudes in the Himalayas in winter. They also migrate southwards for wintering in Laos and Vietnam.

Vagrant wood snipe populations have been observed in Pakistan, Bangladesh, southern India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand.

Post breeding, the juvenile snipes may disperse and establish in new locations within the range. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding within their range.

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the wood snipe (Gallinago nemoricola) is estimated to number between 3,500 to 15,000 individual birds. The overall population trend of these snipe species is reported to be decreasing. Throughout its range it is reported to be rare and local. The generation length is 4.8 years. Its distribution size is about 1,270,000 sq.km.

The wood snipe (Gallinago nemoricola) has approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable, under the range size criterion, under the population trend criterion, and also under the population size criterion. Habitat degradation, habitat loss and hunting are the main threats that may endanger the survival of these snipe species.

IUCN and CITES status

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the snipe species and has listed it as "Vulnerable". The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for the wood snipe (Gallinago nemoricola).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Gallinago nemoricola
Species:G. nemoricola
Binomial name:Gallinago nemoricola
IUCN status listing:
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1.Wood snipe image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gallinago_nemoricola_1921.jpg (cropped)
Image author: Henrik Gronvold | License: Public domain
2.Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/60740813@N04/9471911008/ (cropped)
Image author: Michele Lamberti | License: CC BY 2.0 as on 6/9/17
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