Species Details

Details of Jack Snipe will be displayed below

Jack Snipe   

Common Name: Jack Snipe
Scientific Name: Lymnocryptes minimus
Local Name: Onna Ilolhi / Onna Guraa
Dhivehi Name: އޮންނަ އިލޮޅި / އޮންނަ ގުރާ
Animalia  (Kingdom)
Chordata  (Plylum)
Aves  (Class)
Scolopacidae  (Family)
Lymnocryptes   (Genus)

Jack Snipe's description

The Jack Snipe, is a small stocky wader. It is the smallest snipe, and the only one in the genus Lymnocryptes which is quite distinct from other snipes or woodcocks.

Adults are smaller than common snipe and have relatively shorter bill. Length is 18–25 cm, wingspan is 30–41 cm  and weight is 33–73 g. The body is mottled brown on top and pale underneath. They have a dark stripe through the eye. The wings are pointed and narrow, and yellow back stripes are visible in flight. When seen, the distinctive bobbing movement, as if the bird is on springs, has an almost hypnotic quality.

The head pattern of jack snipe differs from common snipe and other species in the genus Gallinago, in that there is no central crown-stripe; instead, there are two pale lateral crown-stripes, which are separated from the supercilium by an area of dark plumage.

Jack Snipe's facts

Did you know?

  • The Jack Snipe is the world’s smallest snipe.
  • The male performs an aerial display during courtship, and has a sound like a galloping horse.
  • When feeding along the ground, this bird has a distinctive bobbing or bouncing style of motion, as if the bird is on springs.
  • A group of snipes has many collective nouns, including a "leash", "walk", "whisper", "winnowing", and "volley" of snipes.

Jack Snipe's Behavior & Ecology

The Jack Snipe feeds on earthworms, insects (adults and larvae), freshwater and terrestrial small molluscs, and sometimes grass and seeds. 
It forages mainly at dusk or by night. It probes in mud with the bill, or picks up prey items from the surface. While foraging, it performs a remarkable up-and-down rhythmical bouncing action. The reason of this behaviour is currently unknown. It usually feeds singly or in small, loose groups of 4-5 birds.

The Jack Snipe uses its cryptic plumage and adopts an effective camouflage posture by flattening against the ground just in front of an advancing human. The pale lines of the upperparts are aligned with the vegetation, making the bird almost invisible. The bird may flush at less than 1 metre, and some birds can be stepped or captured by hand.

During the breeding season, the Jack Snipe male holds a large territory of several hectares (up to 20 ha). The high aerial display is an advertising territorial behaviour. This display is performed at dawn and dusk, and sometimes during the day. 
The bird rises from the ground until 50-60 metres high at angle of 45/50°. Then, it flies in straight line or in wide circles, and dives steeply at similar angle, often rolling over with half-folded wings before zooming upwards again. The “galloping horse” song can be heard during this flight. This species is usually monogamous.

The Jack Snipe is migratory, but adults and young moult in August/September, in or close to their breeding areas. Then, they move SW across Europe between mid-September and mid-November. They reach their non-breeding areas from October, but mainly from November in tropics. 
The return occurs from March to mid-April, and they reach their breeding grounds between mid-April and mid-May, mostly late May in Siberia.

Unlike other snipes that fly in zigzag, the Jack Snipe has direct flight with rapid wingbeats. When flushed, it rises from almost underfoot, fluttering-up with some hesitant wingbeats, and usually dropping after a short distance.

Jack Snipe's Feeding

These birds forage in soft mud, probing or picking up food by sight. They mainly eat insects and earthworms, also plant material.

Jack Snipe's Reproduction

The breeding season occurs from May to early September. The Jack Snipe nests in a well-hidden site, on floating bogs or on drier ground among the vegetation. The nest is a shallow depression lined with grass and leaves.

 The female lays 3-4 olive/brownish eggs with dark markings. She incubates during 24 days. The chicks are a darker version of the adults. They are precocial and able to walk very soon after hatching. Both parents tend the young which fledge about three weeks after hatching. They become independent a few days later. This species may produce two broods per season.

Jack Snipe's Conservation

This species is a rare visitor to Maldives. In Maldives, this species is protected by law since 22nd May 2003. 


Jack Snipe habitat

Behaviour This species is fully migratory and crosses Europe on a broad front (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It breeds from May to early-September (del Hoyo et al. 1996) in well-dispersed solitary pairs (Johnsgard 1981, Snow and Perrins 1998), after which (between August and September) adults undergo a flightless moulting period close to the breeding grounds (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The autumn south-west migration occurs from mid-September to mid-November, with the species departing its wintering grounds again in March to mid-April (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Outside of the breeding season the species remains largely solitary, usually feeding singly or in groups of up to 5 individuals (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Most of its activities are carried out nocturnally or in the early morning and late evening (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Habitat Breeding The species breeds in the northern taiga and forest tundra zones on open grassy marshes and bogs with swampy ground (Johnsgard 1981, del Hoyo et al. 1996) on flood-plains (del Hoyo et al. 1996), in swampy coniferous forest, willow Salix spp. marshes or wet alder Alnus spp. woods (Johnsgard 1981). Non-breeding Outside of the breeding season it inhabits both fresh and brackish wetlands (del Hoyo et al. 1996) showing a preference for mosaics of moist and waterlogged mudflats with soft, silty mud and dense of tussocks vegetation (Hayman et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996). Suitable habitats include swamps, fens (Snow and Perrins 1998), grassy marshes (Johnsgard 1981), the margins of rivers and streams (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998), overgrown flood-lands, sewage farms (Snow and Perrins 1998), rice-fields (Johnsgard 1981), flooded arable fields, damp pastures and water meadows (Snow and Perrins 1998). Diet Its diet consists of adult and larval insects, annelid worms, small freshwater and terrestrial gastropods and the seeds and vegetative parts of aquatic and shoreline plants (Johnsgard 1981). Breeding site The nest is positioned on hummocks of sphagnum moss or grass tussocks on floating bogs just above the surrounding water (Johnsgard 1981), also on drier ground amongst bushes (del Hoyo et al. 1996) (e.g. dwarf birch Betula nana and heather) (Johnsgard 1981). Management information The annual success of reproduction is estimated every year by wing surveys in Denmark since the end of the 1970s, and in France since the mid-1990s. Hunting bags are estimated every year in Denmark (Clausager 2006).

Jack Snipe threats

The species is threatened by the loss and degradation of its wetland habitats through afforestation, peat extraction and drainage for agricultural intensification (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It also suffers from lead poisoning as a result of ingesting lead shot deposited on wetlands (Olivier 2006). Utilisation The species is hunted during the autumn migration (del Hoyo et al. 1996) (e.g. in Denmark) (Bregnballe et al. 2006).

Jack Snipe's status