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snipe, common name for a shore bird of the family Scolopacidae (sandpiper family), native to the Old and New Worlds. The common, or Wilson's snipe (Capella gallinago), also called jacksnipe, is a game bird of marshes and meadows. It has an unusual courtship dance, circling and diving in the air. The mud snipe or woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) is a nocturnal woodland bird. The eastern dowitcher, Limnodromus griseus, also called the red-breasted, or robin, snipe, frequents mud flats and shores, as does the long-billed dowitcher of W North America and South America (rare on the Atlantic coast). The European common snipe, found also in Asia and Africa, is similar to the Wilson's snipe. Snipes are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Charadriiformes, family Scolopacidae.

A snipe is any of nearly 20 wading bird species in three genera in the family Scolopacidae. They are characterised by a very long slender bill and cryptic plumage. The Gallinago snipes have a nearly worldwide distribution, the Lymnocryptes Jack Snipe is restricted to Asia and Europe and the Coenocorypha snipes are found only in New Zealand. The three species of painted snipe are not closely related to the typical snipes, and are placed in their own family, the Rostratulidae.


The snipe make up part of the wader family Scolopacidae. The 15 typical snipes in the genus Gallinago are the closest relatives of the woodcocks, whereas the small genera Coenocorypha (the New Zealand snipes) and Lymnocryptes represent earlier divergences in the snipe/woodcock clade


Snipe search for invertebrates in the mud with a "sewing-machine" action of their long bills. Most have distinctive displays, usually given at dawn or dusk.

The difficulties involved in hunting snipe gave rise to "sniper," referring to a skilled anti-personnel military sharpshooter.



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