Birds of Seabrook Island

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  Wilson's Snipe
 
 

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  Order Charadriiformes - Plovers, Sandpipers, Gulls, Terns, Auks
   Family Scolopacidae - "Sandpipers"
      Tribe Gallinagini - Snipe

  Charadriiforms are a diverse group of shore and aquatic or wading or terrestrial birds. They include the sandgrouse, shore birds, gulls and terns, and alcids. The majority breed in the Northern Hemisphere.
   The Tree of Life includes shorebirds with the Ciconiiformes.
Sandpipers are a diverse group of shorebirds with bills not swollen at the tip. Most live in association with water. Short-billed forms feed on the surface using vision. Long-billed forms probe in mud and their prey is located by touch or smell. Tides influence their feeding cycles.   
Snipe are stout, long-billed shorebirds of bogs and wetlands. They are generally solitary but may form small flocks in migration. They probe the mud for food.
   
     
  Wilson's (Common) Snipe, Gallinago delicata
 
Cornell     USGS     Wiki   ToL   EoL
        WINTER - Uncommon - rare / Rare
            DAMP MEADOWS, POND EDGES, ALONG STREAMS
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   The Wilson's Snipe is slightly smaller than the woodcock and has a smaller head that is striped rather than barred. The body is barred and the back is boldly striped. In flight, the short tail is flashes orange. There are white tips on the secondaries. It has a long bill used to probe wet soil for a variety of invertebrates. Overall, they appear dark. Snipe are secretive, usually hunkered down at the edge of a small stream or pond. Snipe usually remain motionless when approached, flushing only at the last moment.
Wilson's Snipe
  Sibley identifies our snipe as the Common Snipe, Gallinago gallinago. This bird is found in the Old World and our snipe is now recognized as a separate species, the Wilson's Snipe.
Wilson's Snipe.
Bear Island WMA. Photo by Irene Haskins
   
  RANGE: Snipe breed broadly across the continent from New Jersey north to Labrador, west to the Great Lakes and Hudson Bay and on the the Pacific Coast of Canada and throughout Alaska. They winter from our central states south through to northern South America.
   The closely related Common Snipe, Gallinago gallinago, is widely distributed in the northern hemisphere of the Old World where several distinct populations are found. The various references differ in the placement of our North American population - I have chosen to place it with the Wilson's Snipe.
  BREEDING: Monogamous. One brood. Males display by spreading their outer tail feathers during aerial dives. The outer tail feathers produce a low, pulsing, whistling sound. They perform day or night.
   The female builds 4-5 nest scrapes in grass under low vegetation with a fine grass lining. She is initially promiscuous but becomes monogamous when the nest site is selected. She lays 4 (3-4)  eggs which she incubates for 18-21 days. Young are precocial and leave the nest after hatching. Parents may split the brood and care for them separately. They are able to fly in 19-20 days.
  DIET: They feed on insects, earthworms, crustaceans, mollusks and vegetation. They forage by probing in soft mud. There are sensors on the bill that locate prey (touch, taste) and the bill is flexible and can by opened to capture food in the substrate. They may also feed in shallow water. They feed deliberately and slowly, not calling attention to their presence.
  VOICE: Their flight call is a dry, scraping "kesh." They utter their display song from a perch - "TIKa TIKa TIKa..." In winnowing display flight (especially at night), their tail feathers produce a hollow, low, whistling sound, similar to the song of a Boreal Owl.
  NOTES:
   Checklists -
      Seabrook. Kiawah - uncommon fall through winter, occasional spring.
      Coastal - fairly common winter visitor. Hilton Head - fairly common winter visitor. Cape Romain - uncommon/absent/common/common.          Huntington Beach - rare October - April.
      Caw Caw - uncommon/absent/uncommon/uncommon. ACE - occasional/absent/occasional/common.
   CBC: ACE 13, 29, 14, 44, 99, 42, 24, 126; Charleston  5, 18, 2, 4, 20, 14, 0, 5;
            Hilton Head 1, 6, 2, 1, 2, 2, 2, 10; Sun City/Okatie 0, 1, 3, 1, 2, 4, 0, 5;
            McClellanville 7, 4, 4, 3, nc, 2, 1, 24; Winyah Bay x, x, 24, 11, 21, 10, 6, 46; Litchfield/Pawley's 6, 24, 44, 18, 0, 5, 3, 29.
   P&G: Common winter visitor. 15 August - 20 May. Maximum, 300, Magnolia Gardens, 12 February 1975.
   Avendex: 4 records.
   Potter: Winter resident, common on the coast. They frequent open areas (meadows, bogs, fields, and edges of marshes, ponds, and streams) from late August in to May.
  ●  Snipe are common in the coastal plain in winter but are secretive, usually crouching in vegetation at the edge of shallow ponds or streams. Uncommon /Rare?
   I have not seen snipe on Seabrook although we have seen them in the rice fields on a Yawkey trip, and in the Bear Island WMA. I have seen them with other shorebirds in the salt marshes off Pitt St. in Mt. Pleasant. They might be expected in the lagoon on North Beach. Watch open ditches and golf course areas as well...They should be expected especially around fresh-water areas.
   
   

Have you been on a snipe hunt?

Contrary to popular belief, snipe are real birds. The practice of leading the uninitiated into the woods with sticks to be banged together in front of a small paper bag used to capture the bird (with or without a flashlight behind the bag) may have been experienced by some of you in your earlier days. Unfortunately, this exercise will not attract snipe - you need patience and binoculars to see them and properly placed nets to capture them...
   Historically, snipe were affected by market hunting in the late 19th century. They have been popular items for the avid hunter through the years.
       
    Banner - Wilson's Snipe, Bear Island WMA.
       
       
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