Family Sandpipers, Snipes, Phalaropes (Scolopacidae)

Least Concern

Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)


French: Bécassine des marais German: Bekassine Spanish: Agachadiza común

Scolopax Gallinago


, 1758,



Until recently, considered conspecific with G. delicata. Also sometimes lumped with G. nigripennis, G. paraguaiae and G. andina, but differences in size, outer tail feathers and quality of aerial “winnowing” suggest separate species status; G. macrodactyla may also be close relative. Has hybridized with G. media#R. Two subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • G. g. faeroeensis (C. L. Brehm, 1831) – Iceland, Faeroes, Orkney and Shetland; winters in British Is.
  • G. g. gallinago (Linnaeus, 1758) – British Is, Scandinavia and W Europe through NC Eurasia to Kamchatka and W Aleutians, and S from NE Afghanistan to N India; winters from W Europe, Mediterranean and equatorial Africa through Middle East, Arabia and Indian Subcontinent to E China, S Korea, S Japan, Philippines and Borneo.
  • Descriptive notes

    25–27 cm; 72–181 g; wingspan 44–47 cm. Small to medium-sized snipe, with rather long bill and white belly; plumage variable, and melanistic morph occurs (e.... read more


    Male’s “winnowing” song (drumming) is a slightly accelerating and rising “w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w” or “... read more


    Open fresh or brackish marshland with rich or tussocky vegetation, grassy or marshy edges of lakes... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet includes larval insects (10–80%), adult insects, earthworms, small crustaceans, small gastropods and spiders; plant fibres and... read more


    Laying Apr–Jun (later at higher latitudes), exceptionally Mar. Monogamous, but both sexes show high degree of promiscuity. Pairs... read more


    Mostly migratory, wintering S to N tropics; some populations sedentary or partially migratory, e.g... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Global population recently estimated at more than 4,000,000 birds, but that in Europe numbers 2,670,000–5,060,000 pairs (2000... read more

    Recommended citation

    Van Gils, J., Wiersma, P., Kirwan, G.M. & Sharpe, C.J. (2020). Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 19 February 2020).