Jack snipe

The Jack Snipe is smaller and shorter-billed than most of other snipes.
This species usually occurs in thick marsh vegetation. It is very secretive and its cryptic plumage makes it invisible on the ground. During the breeding season, the male performs high aerial displays to advertise its large territory.
The Jack Snipe is migratory and breeds in N Europe and N Russia, but the wintering areas are widely scattered from British Islands through W Europe and S to tropical Africa and some parts of S Europe and Asia.
This species is not globally threatened and has fairly stable population.

The Jack Snipe adult has brownish-black mantle, upper scapulars, rump and uppertail, with strong purple and green gloss. Four conspicuous pale golden-buff parallel lines contrast strongly with the dark areas. The lower scapulars are mostly dark brown with reddish-buff and pale buff markings.
On the upperwing, the coverts are brown with pale buff fringes.
On the head, unlike other snipes, the crown lacks the pale central stripe, and is blackish-brown with pale flecks. is mottled brown or grey-brown with paler flecks.
The relatively short bill (36-43 mm) is dull pinkish-brown to yellowish at base, with blackish terminal third towards the tip. The eyes are dark brown. Legs and feet are pale greenish or dull greenish-yellow to dull pinkish-brown.

Length: 17-19 cm
Wingspan: 38-42 cm
Weight: 35-73 g



The Jack Snipe feeds on earthworms, insects (adults and larvae), freshwater and terrestrial small molluscs, and sometimes grass and seeds.
It forages mainly at dusk or by night. It probes in mud with the bill, or picks up prey items from the surface. While foraging, it performs a remarkable up-and-down rhythmical bouncing action. It usually feeds singly or in small, loose groups of 4-5 birds.
The Jack Snipe uses its cryptic plumage and adopts an effective camouflage posture by flattening against the ground just in front of an advancing human. The pale lines of the upperparts are aligned with the vegetation, making the bird almost invisible. The bird may flush at less than 1 metre, and some birds can be stepped or captured by hand.
The Jack Snipe is migratory, but adults and young moult in August/September, in or close to their breeding areas. Then, they move SW across Europe between mid-September and mid-November. They reach their non-breeding areas from October, but mainly from November in tropics.
The return occurs from March to mid-April, and they reach their breeding grounds between mid-April and mid-May, mostly late May in Siberia.
Unlike other snipes that fly in zigzag, the Jack Snipe has direct flight with rapid wingbeats. When flushed, it rises from almost underfoot, fluttering-up with some hesitant wingbeats, and usually dropping after a short distance.


The Jack Snipe breeds in boreal forest in large wet bogs and in areas of bushy tundra. Outside breeding season, it can be seen in a variety of brackish and freshwater habitats including marshes, wet meadows, flooded fields and grassy areas near pools and lakes, usually with soft silty mud.

Calls and songs:

The Jack Snipe is often silent when flushed, or rarely gives a weak “gah”. However, it becomes noisy during the breeding season. During the flight displays, it gives first a regular knocking “ogogogogogogog…” during five seconds, followed by a quicker sound similar to a galloping horse “ogogoglK-ogoglK…” lasting eight seconds, and finally a rhythmical series of high-pitched whistles “whirble-eeble-eeble-eeble…” during six seconds.

Methods of hunting permitted for use:

  • stalking,
  • ambush hunting,
  • using hunting birds,
  • using hunting dogs

Permitted hunting tools:

Hunting fire smooth-bore long-barreled arms; cold bladed hunting weapon


Snipe will roast in a matter of minutes, their breasts layered in bacon to prevent the meat from drying out. Roast small snipes for as little as five minutes if you want the meat cooked pink, or around 15 minutes for a well-done, slightly larger bird. Allow two snipes per person for a main course, or more for those with a hearty appetite. It’s traditional to roast snipes with the innards intact (with the exception of the hard gizzard, which should be removed). These are then scraped out, spread on buttered toast, and served under the roasted bird.