Thursday, February 16, 2017

Wilson’s Snipe

A Wilson’s Snipe yesterday at the Old Highway 77 Bridge across the Minnesota River south of Minneapolis. Birders have reported here for several weeks, and birders pointed it out to us as we walked across the bridge. The bird appeared unhealthy. The eye looked to be half-closed and the feathers on its left side appeared ruffled. When the snipe flew a short distance, its flight seemed a bit crippled. Our warm winter has kept a patch of muddy water open for the snipe to survive.

Wilson’s snipes are one of North Americas most common shorebirds. They are interesting birds. Briefly they were thought to be a race of the Common Snipe of Europe. Recently ornithologists re-elevated its status to species-hood, and once again it is named the Wilson’s Snipe. The word “snipe” refers to the bird’s long bill, which it uses to probe its muddy habitat. Snipe eyes are set towards the back of their head. The bird can see to both sides, and it can see what is coming from behind Mueller (1999).

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