Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Magical Snipe

This morning I opened up the latest edition of I and the Bird. I was trying to decide which of many the great blogs to read first when this line caught my eye: Tai Haku of Earth, Wind & Water went on a Snipe Hunt, taking a picture of "a non-existent magical creature".
Non-existent and magical??? What a coincidence! I just saw one (for the very first time) last week!

I looked outside Thursday morning and saw this bird. Now I know I'd never seen one of these before... I would have remembered that beak. I grabbed the camera and snapped tons of photos. As I got closer to him, he hunkered down into the grass, and even though I knew right where he was, I had a hard time spotting him. Very good camouflage, no wonder I'd never seen one before.

wilson's snipe

Comparing my photos to the photos in my field guide, I identified it as a Common Snipe. But when I attempted to enter my siting into eBird, there was no Common Snipe listed, just a Wilson's Snipe.

Hmmm, there was no Wilson's Snipe listed in any of my field guides. I found my answer on Cornell University's Bird Guide site: "The Wilson's Snipe was recently recognized as a different species from the Common Snipe of Eurasia. The two snipes look extremely similar, but differ in the shape, patterning, and usually the number of the tail feathers. The Wilson's Snipe typically has 16 tail feathers, whereas the Common Snipe has 14."

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