Birds Of Southern California


Wilson's Snipe (Gallinago delicata)

The Wilson's Snipe is yet another one of those secretive and coy birds. Finding this species requires patience, timing and knowing where to look. I've found the Wilson's Snipe along the edges of fresh or brackish water edges. They'll hide between the bulrushes or any variety of water plant life so they can't been seen. When airborne, they sometimes cruise just above the water line as they get ready for a place to land. Their long bills are ideal for drilling into the muddy surfaces looking for food sources. These photos were taken at the San Mateo Creek which is at the beach at the most northern end of the San Diego border and also at the Oso Reservoir in Orange County. Map buttons are located within each photo for precise location of where the photo was taken. Here's more from WIkipedia though includes addendum on Common Snipe ID points: Wilson's snipe (Gallinago delicata) is a small, stocky shorebird. This species was considered to be a subspecies of the common snipe (G. gallinago) until 2003 when it was given its own species status, though not all authorities recognized this immediately.[2] Wilson's snipe differs from the latter species in having a narrower white trailing edge to the wings, more contrast on the underwings, and typically eight pairs of tail feathers (though it can be as few as 6 pairs and rarely as many as 9 pairs as per Richard Chandler ornithologist) instead of the typical seven of the common snipe. Its common name commemorates the American ornithologist Alexander Wilson. Adults are 23–28 cm (9.1–11.0 in) in length with a 39–45 cm (15–18 in) wingspan. They have short greenish-grey legs and a very long straight dark bill. The body is mottled brown on top and pale underneath. They have a dark stripe through the eye, with light stripes above and below it. The wings are pointed. They breed in marshes, bogs, tundra and wet meadows in Canada and the northern United States. They are year-round residents on the U.S. Pacific coast. The eastern population migrates to the southern United States and to northern South America. It may be that climate change causes these birds to move to their breeding range earlier and leave later than 100 years ago. In Ohio for example, late April was recorded as an average migration date in 1906, but now most of the local population is present on the breeding grounds by then already.[4][5] They forage in soft mud, probing or picking up food by sight and eating insects, earthworms, and plant material. Well-camouflaged, they are usually shy and conceal themselves close to ground vegetation, flushing only when approached closely. They fly off in a series of aerial zig-zags to confuse predators. The male performs "winnowing" display during courtship, flying high in circles and then taking shallow dives to produce a distinctive sound. They have been observed "winnowing" throughout the day and long into the night. The "winnowing" sound is similar to the call of a boreal owl. They nest in a well-hidden location on the ground.

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