Snipe

Gallinago gallinago Linnaeus, 1758

Capella gallinago L.: Patev, 1950: 137; Petrov, 1950: 33; Peshev, Boev, 1962: 421; Gallinago scolopacina Bp: Radakoff, 1879: 169; Hristovich, 1892: 424; Reiser, 1894: 163.

Order Charadriiformes

Family Scolopacidae

Conservation status: in Bulgaria: Critically endangered CR B[1a]+D+E; International: BeC-III, BoC-II, ECS-Spec 3.

General distribution. A Holarctic species. It breeds in Eurasia and Northern America. In Europe the northern border of the area reaches the Arctic, and the southern one is unclear and passes approximately from Southern France to the Danube and the Northern Black Sea coast. It winters in Central America, Northern and Central Africa and Southern Asia. The total population in Northern Europe is estimated at over 2 million birds [1].

Distribution and abundance in Bulgaria. A breeding summer visitor, passage migrant and winter visitor. At the end of the 19th century it incubated in the Batak Marsh, it was numerous in the regions of Ruse and Sofia (mostly in the Dragoman Swamp); registered during the breeding period near the city of Dobrich and the village of Slaveevo, near the village of Ognyanovo, Pazardzhik region, in the lakes Shabla and Mandrensko [2, 3]. Since 1985 it has been considered extinct as a breeding species in Bulgaria [2]. In May-June 1997 1998, certain breeding of 2-3 pairs was registered in the Dragoman Swamp (A. Antonov, D. Atanasova, V. Delov, personal communication). Before 1997 it was not registered there (V. Delov, personal communication). Courtship behaviour of a male was observed in the Tsibarsko Swamp between 11 and 13 June 2004 (A. Antonov, personal communication). In the winter it has low numbers, mainly in Southern Bulgaria and along the Black Sea coast: about 80 individuals at the average with a maximum of 134 in 2001; most wintering birds were found in Atanasovsko Ezero lake 130 in 1987 [4, 5].

Habitats. Marshes, bogs, turf areas. It prefers flat biotopes but it also settles in comfortable biotopes up to an altitude of 2000 m [3]. During migrations and wintering, in most different wetlands, mainly along the Black Sea coast and Southern Bulgaria.

Biology. It breeds in spacious marshes and bogs with ample herbaceous vegetation and in the transition zone between them and the territories surrounding them. The nest is situated in the vicinity of water surface among Agrostis capillaries, Juncus conglomerates and Carex sp. (A. Antonov, D. Atanasova, personal communication). It lays 4 eggs in the middle of May. The young ones are nidifugous and start flying at the age of about 20 days. Food: insects and larvae, snails, sometimes seeds.

Similar species. The Great Snipe (Gallinago media).

Negative factors. Drying up of natural marshes and bogs, illegal shooting during migrations and wintering.

Conservation measures taken. Included in the Red Data Book of Bulgaria (1985).

Conservation measures needed. Preparation of a national plan for its conservation. Inclusion in Annex 3 of the Biological Diversity Act, declaring the Dragoman Swamp a Protected Site.

References. 1. Wetlands International, 2002; 2. Red Book of Bulgaria, 1985. 3. Nankinov et al., 1997; 4. Michev, Profirov, 2003; 5. Dimitrov et al., 2005.

Authors: Anton Antonov, Ventseslav Delov, Tanyo Michev


Snipe (distribution map)

Snipe (drawing)