South American Snipe Gallinago paraguaiae

  • Order: Charadriiformes
  • Family: Scolopacidae
  • Polytypic: 2 subspecies
  • Authors needed...

This is the widespread member of the “common” snipe superspecies. It is very similar to and closely related to the northern Wilson’s Snipe, and it also has a high elevation relative in the Andes, the Puna Snipe. As is typical of this group of snipe it is found in wet grasslands, marshes, edges of ponds and when breeding males take to the air to give their aerial display known as “winnowing.” There is very little plumage difference between various members of this species complex, and even the North American Wilson’s Snipe was only recently separated as a species from the Old World Common Snipe. Differences in aspects of the tail configuration and feather shapes, as well as the particular winnowing display help to separate the species. It is therefore not unexpected that in this wide ranging South American species there is one winnow type in the north and east of the Andes in tropical to subtropical habitats while there is another winnow type west of the Andes, and in temperate zones east of the Andes. These two forms are named subspecies and almost surely deserve to be separated as species, a more northern Paraguaian Snipe, and a more southern Magellanic Snipe. The southern Magellanic Snipe is also at least partially migratory, creating the potential situation that these two very similar species may be found together at times in the non-breeding season. Thus far outside of vocalizations and distribution, there is no good visual manner to distinguish between these two forms.

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© Davis Finch

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

South American Snipe (Gallinago paraguaiae), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: