Wilson's Snipe (Gallinago gallinago delicata)
Range: North America.

Breeds across much of North America (as far west as the Aleutians) and Canada and winters in the southern States and
south to northern South America.

Separation from Common Snipe

(1) As a whole, Wilson's Snipe is usually colder toned than Common Snipe but has a darker brown on the mantle.
(2) The underparts are much whiter and paler.

(3) The scapular feathers of Wilson's Snipe have relatively narrow white fringes.

(4) The tertials are dark and finely marked with gradually fading transverse bars.

(5) The lesser and median coverts are intricately patterned with white-tipped dark-centred feathers, which contrast with the dark blackish-brown greater covert bar.

(6) The head pattern is similar but the rear supercilium tends to be narrower on Wilson's Snipe and broadens more in front of the eye.

(7) Wilson's Snipe is rather coarsely patterned on the neck sides with a brown-ginger wash mostly confined to the mid and upper breast.

(8) The flank barring in Wilson's Snipe is very striking and quite extensive which is pronounced by the white background coloration of the flanks, which are usually buff-brown in Common Snipe.

(9) Wilson's Snipe usually has 16 tail feathers. Common Snipe usually have 14 tail feathers, although occasionally 16 or 18.

(10) In Wilson's Snipe the outer tail feathers are white with black bars and are less well-defined and duller in Common Snipe.

(11) The shape of the tail feather is diagnostic with Wilson's Snipe showing a more parallel and square-ended tail whereas Common has round-tipped feathers.

(12) In flight, Common Snipe shows rather pointed wings.

(13) The bill of Common Snipe often looks longer than Wilson's Snipe.

(14) Wilson's Snipe has a shorter tail and in flight the toes are visible just beyond the tail tip.

(15) In Wilson's Snipe the white tips to the secondaries are narrower with broader white tips to the primary coverts.

(16) Wilson's Snipe has barred lesser and median underwing-coverts giving the impression of a darker underwing.

Bland, B. (1998) The Wilson's Snipe on the Isles of Scilly. Birding World 11(10): 382-385.

Bland, B. (1999) The Wilson's Snipe on Scilly revisited. Birding World 12(2): 56-61.

Carey, G. J. (1992) The status and field identification of Snipe in Hong Kong. Hong Kong Bird Report 1992:139-152.

Carey G. and Olsson, U. (1995) Field identification of Common, Wilson's, Pintail and Swinhoe's Snipes. Birding World 8(5): 179-190.

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All text and images copyright of Angus Wilson© 2002