Snipe - a small bird with a very long, straight and sharp beak. Such a small sandpiper with its dimensions resembles a motley large woodpecker. It was in honor of this secretive and rather unusual bird that the popular hunting rifle got its name.
The most famous of all representatives of the Bekasov family, belonging to the Charadriiformes order, is today quite numerous not only in Russian latitudes, but also worldwide.
Snipe are one of the easily recognizable birds, due to the long and thin beak, as well as the characteristic brownish motley color. Representatives of the species are very close relatives of woodcock. A small sandpiper is quite agile during the flight; it can quickly move not only on the ground, but also in the water.
The average body length of an adult bird, as a rule, does not exceed 28 cm, with a body weight of 90-200 grams. The length of the direct beak of the bird is about a third of the total body length (about 7.5 cm). The beak of representatives of the species is characteristically pointed towards the end, therefore, it is an excellent device for finding food in sand, silt and soft ground.
The legs of representatives of the snipe family belonging to the order Charadriiformes are rather short and relatively thin. The eyes of the bird are large, set high and noticeably shifted to the back of the head, which ensures the widest possible visibility and the ability to see very well even in dusk.
It is interesting! The people called the snipe a lamb, which is explained by the very characteristic bleating that the bird is able to produce during the current period: the peculiar sounds "che-ke-che-ke-ke-ke".
The plumage of a snipe, mainly of a brown-reddish color, with the presence of light and black inclusions. At the very tips of the feathers there are pronounced white stripes. The region of the sandpiper abdomen is light, without the presence of dark spots. The coloring of the representatives of the species serves them as excellent camouflage and makes it easy to hide among the low marsh grassy vegetation.
Snipe are migratory birds. In spring, representatives of the species arrive quite early after the snow cover in the swamps disappears. Sandpipers appear in the southern part of Kazakhstan, on the territory of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan approximately in the first days of March, and these birds arrive in Ukraine and Belarus in the last decade of March.
In the Moscow region, such birds fall in early April, and under Yakutsk - only in the middle of the last spring month. The birds prefer to fly alone, after dark, at the very beginning of their flight, making a rather sharp cry to the “tundra”. The flight takes place mainly at night, and during the day, snipes feed and rest. Sometimes sandpipers join for flight in groups of several birds or small flocks.
Snipes are true flight masters. Representatives of the species are incredibly agile in the air and are able to describe real pirouettes or zigzags. It should be noted that such feathered agile even after the end of the current period. Birds swiftly move in the air, periodically changing the height of their flight.
How much snipe lives
The average, officially registered and scientifically confirmed life expectancy of a snipe in natural conditions, as a rule, does not exceed ten years. Such a considerable period is quite decent for birds in the natural environment.
Both sexes of the Bekasy species are characterized by a similar staining and approximately the same weight, therefore, signs of sexual dimorphism are practically not expressed. Younger snipe have a wonderful protective color. The variability of the three subspecies is manifested exclusively in the variation of the details of the patterns and shades in the color of the plumage, as well as in the general size of the bird and some proportions of the body.
Types of Snipe
The family is represented by twenty species, as well as 47 subspecies that differ in appearance, habitats and habits. In the recent past, in England such birds were called Snipe (snipers).
Some of the snipe subspecies:
Representatives of the species received distribution in the territories of North America from Alaska to the eastern part of Labrador.
Snipe are found on the islands: Iceland, Azores, British and Faroe. A large number of birds inhabit Eurasia from western France and Scandinavia to the eastern part to the coastline of the Chukchi Peninsula. Colonies of birds settle on the coast of the Bering Sea, on Kamchatka and the Commander Islands, on the coast of the Sea of Okhotsk and Sakhalin. Sandpipers quite actively nest on Vaigach island.
The natural habitat of snipe are marshy areas with abundant shrub vegetation or without it at all. Birds are inhabitants of brackish as well as open freshwater bodies of water with rather dense coastal vegetation interspersed with pronounced mudbanks.
It is interesting! The main wintering snipe are located in North Africa, in Iran and India, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in Indonesia and southern China, in the Crimea and Transcaucasia.
During the nesting period, all snipe adhere to areas of sedge bogs in river floodplains and on natural watersheds. Less frequently, snipe nests on moist meadow zones with hummocky lands or on the silty shores of vast old ladies.
The main part of the snipe diet is represented by insects and their larvae, as well as earthworms. In a much smaller volume, such mollusks and small crustaceans are eaten by such birds. Along with animal feed, snipe are able to consume plant foods represented by seeds, fruits and shoots of plants. To improve the process of grinding the greens inside the stomach, small pebbles or grains of sand are swallowed by the birds.
Going out to feed snipe actively move, catch small insects. In order to search for food for birds, the soil is examined. In the process of feeding, the beak sinks into the soil almost to the very bottom. Found large prey, such as a worm, is divided into small pieces using a beak. The reason for the change in the habitual, preferred diet is most often the lack of feed when the season changes.
Small-sized birds are quite capable of swallowing the found food, without even pulling their beak out of the mud sediments. In search of food in shallow water, representatives of the species launch their long and very sharp beak into soft silty sediments and, while moving forward slowly, check the soil layers. At the tip of the beak of the bird there is a significant number of nerve endings that allow you to capture the movement of earthen inhabitants. Only when they feel the prey, snipe capture it with its beak.
Breeding and offspring
Snipe by their nature are monogamous birds, forming only stable pairs for the breeding season. Almost immediately after arrival, the sandpiper males begin an active current. During the current flight, the males fly in circles, rising into the air rather high, sometimes diving downward.
During the “fall”, the bird spreads its wings and tail, cuts through the air layers and vibrates, due to which a very characteristic and rattling sound is produced, strongly reminiscent of bleating. Settled males flow using the same place for this purpose. After a short time, females join the males, as a result of which pairs are formed that remain during the breeding season.
It is interesting!The snakes are especially active during mating in the morning and evening hours, in cloudy and cloudy weather with variable rain. Sometimes males talk on the ground, sitting on a bump and making voiced sounds of "tick, tick, tick."
The females are exclusively engaged in arranging the nest and subsequently incubating the offspring, and the males share the care of the born chicks with the females. The nest is usually located on some not too high bump. It is a recess covered with dry grassy stems. Each full clutch contains four or five pear-shaped eggs, yellowish or olive-brown in color with dark, brown and gray spots. The incubation process, as a rule, lasts three weeks.
Despite the fact that the males stay close to their broods, a significant part of the cares that concern the upbringing of offspring is carried out by the female snipe. Duration of oviposition in waders is as follows:
- in the northern part of Ukraine - the last decade of April;
- in the suburbs - the first May decade;
- in Taimyr - the end of July.
Sandpipers leave their nest after they dry out. A male and a female keep with a growing brood. When the first signs of danger appear, the parent couple carries down chicks to a small distance on the fly. Birds squeeze down jackets between the metatarsals and fly extremely low above ground level. Three-week-old chicks are able to fly for a short time. Around the middle of summer, juveniles become almost completely independent. After that, snipe begin active movement to the southern territories.
Snipe are a favorite sport hunting object in many countries. Unbroken birds are strict, and they do not allow dogs and hunters to come to them in clean swampy areas closer than twenty steps and break away from their place before the shot. Birds and snipe eggs themselves can be prey for many feathered and terrestrial predators, including foxes, wolves, wild dogs, martens, weasels, and representatives of the cat family. From the air, snakes are most often hunted by eagles and kites, hawks and large crows.
Population and species status
Along with very numerous woodcocks, streets, sandpits and spindles, as well as flippers, representatives of the Bekasy species are included in an extensive family, which now unites a little more than nine dozen species units. At the moment, the waders population is not in danger.