Common Snipe

  • SCIENTIFIC NAME: Gallinago gallinago

  • SWAHILI NAME: Sululu

The challenge of successfully hunting common snipe eventually gave rise to the term “sniper” for a marksman with a high level of accuracy.

Common Snipe

Common Snipe



Daily Rhythm




Conservation Status

Least concern


70-180 g


25-27 cm
Wingspan: 44-47 cm

Common Snipe

Trivia Question

To avoid predators, common snipes will:


Flying in a zigzag pattern confuses predators, who are unable to figure out how to follow the birds as they fly away.

Social Structure

Stocky and social birds, common snipes like to forage in small groups as they wade through shallow water or gather on fields at dawn or dusk to feed; sometimes hundreds of birds will gather at particularly rich feeding sites.


Common snipes give a harsh call when they are flying away or at night during migration; another common call is heard most often at dawn and dusk during mating periods, during the day, and on moonlit nights.


Mottled feather patterns let shy common snipes conceal themselves among ground vegetation, but they will flush from cover when startled. They use their exceptionally long bills to probe in mud for prey.


Least concern


Common snipes eat insects and other invertebrates, worms, and small crustaceans.


Males fly hundreds of feet in the air and then spread their tail feathers and let themselves plummet to the ground; the wind whistling through their tail feathers creates a “drumming” sound that entices females. While both males and females initially may be attracted to more than one potential mate, monogamous pairs eventually form and the female builds a grass nest covered by grasses and other vegetation. Parents do not share the responsibility of caring for all the chicks; instead, each parent tends exclusively to half the brood.

Friends & Foes

Cattle may trample eggs, and owl, hawks, and small mammals will also prey on common snipe.

Population in Kenya

The common snipe is usually seen in southern and central Kenya.

Range & Habitat

Common snipe can be found in western and Mediterranean Europe, Africa, Asia, and parts of the Middle East.

Common snipes make their homes in marshes, wetlands, and other damp and grassy habitats.

Did you know?

Common snipes have flexible and sensitive bills that are essential for finding prey deep in the mud.