Common Snipe vs. Woodcock

Difference Between Common Snipe And Woodcock Common Snipe When we think of bird sounds, we usually think of…

Difference Between Common Snipe And Woodcock

Common Snipe

When we think of bird sounds, we usually think of singing. But some birds, such as the common snipe, also make sounds with their bills, feet, and feathers. During the mating season, the male snipe accompanies his courtship flight with a booming sound. This is made by air hitting his tail feathers. He makes the drumming noise while diving straight down over his prospective mate’s head. This causes air to rush over two special feathers on either side of his tail.

Despite its dramatic breeding display, the common snipe is a shy, secretive bird that avoids humans. Its striped plumage provides camouflage in the marshes and wet meadows where it nests. This bird builds its nest on dry ground in clumps of tall grass. The bird pulls the grass over its nest to cover the olive-brown eggs. The female sits on her eggs for 17 to 19 days. Her mate seldom helps incubate the eggs. But he does help guard the nest by trying to distract predators and humans with his showy flight.

The common snipe can be found all over the world. It lives in marshes, wet meadows, and moors. Their numbers are declining in many places. But in cities, they have become somewhat more common in the past century. They like to nest on gravel rooftops. These were introduced in many towns in the mid-1800s.


Woodcock, a well-known American game bird (Scolopax minor) belonging to the sandpiper family (Scolopacidae). Possessing a full and robust body, the woodcock has short, rounded wings; large eyes; a sizable head; short legs; and a straight bill. Tapering from the stout base and grooved for nearly the entire length, the bill is exceedingly sensitive at the end. The woodcock is 9 to 12 inches (25 to 30.5 cm) long and weighs from 7 to 9 ounces (0.2 to 0.3 kg), the female being the larger bird.


Although it will sometimes cross over into Ontario and other southern provinces of Canada, the woodcock seldom ventures beyond the limits of the eastern half of the United States. In winter the species migrates to the South Atlantic and Gulf states, while breeding occurs primarily in the central and northern states. Migration northward begins very early, and many of the more hardy individuals reach the Middle Atlantic and New England states in early March, before the frost has left the ground. At such times, and also in late fall, woodcocks secure food, consisting of snails as well as insects and their larvae, by turning over fallen leaves. During summer, however, or whenever the ground is sufficiently soft, the birds probe the earth with their long sensitive bill and skillfully extract earthworms, their chief food. Even when the bill is plunged deeply into the ground, the woodcock’s large eyes, placed very high and forward on the head, permit unobstructed vision in all directions.



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