Jack Snipe

The interestingly named Jack Snipe (Lymnocryptes minimus) is actually not a snipe, but rather the only member of its genus Lymnocryptes in the larger family of waders and shorebirds.

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The exact origin of the name is unclear, but strangely it might have something to do with the game of bowls; the ‘jack’ in the game of bowls being the smallest of the balls used. The Jack Snipe’s secretive nature is reflected in its scientific name. Lymnocryptes is derived from the Greek words limne, meaning marsh, and krupto, meaning to hide. The species name minimus is Latin for smallest.

It is smaller than other snipes or woodcocks (17 to 19 cm), with a shorter bill. Furthermore it differs from all other snipes by having a wedge-shaped tail, which lacks white; it also lacks a central stripe on the crown and has a purple and green gloss on black upperparts.

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Jack Snipes are migratory, spending the non-breeding period in various brackish and freshwater habitats in Great Britain, coastal Europe, Africa, and India. Their breeding habitat is open marshes, bogs, floodplains and wet meadows with short vegetation in northern Europe and northern Russia.

When feeding it has a characteristic ‘bouncing’ motion, as if on a spring. They forage in soft mud, probing or picking up food by sight. They mainly eat insects and earthworms, also seeds and other plant material.

The male performs a switchback aerial display during courtship, typically at dawn and dusk, during which it makes a distinctive sound like a galloping horse. They nest in a well-hidden location on the ground, laying 3 or 4 eggs. The chicks hatch after about 24 days and are independent after a further 20 days.

To enjoy the Jack Snipe with your own eyes, along with many other fantastic resident and migratory species, join us on our Spain Birding Trip coming up in April 2020. For more information, go to https://naturetravelbirding.com/spain-birding-safari/ or enquire directly at info@naturetravelbirding.com





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