The Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) is a small shorebird that lives in marshes, bogs, and tundra up north until winter when it migrates south to the Southern United States and Even to Northern Sout America. They also live year round along the Pacific Coast.
They nest in a well-hidden location on the ground.
They have short greenish-grey legs and a very long straight dark bill. The body is mottled brown on top and pale underneath. They have a dark stripe through the eye.
These birds mainly eat insects and earthworms but also some plant material.
The male performs a courtship ritual of flying high in circles and then taking shallow dives that produces a distinctive sound called winnowing. Market hunting severely reduced the population near the end of the 19th century, loss of habitat was also a factor. Despite this snipe remain fairly common.
The snipe has recently gained some increased interest as a game bird by hunters. Snipe are well camouflaged and flushes only when approached closely. They fly off in a series of aerial zig-zags to confuse predators. Snipe hunters, therefore, needed to be very skilled to hit these birds.
There being a difficult target for hunters let to the term snipers to be applied to those successful sportsman that hunt them. The term sniper then carried over to the modern definition of a highly skilled military sharpshooter.
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