Latham's Snipes

Latham's SnipeLatham's Snipe, Gallinago hardwickii, also known as Japanese Snipe, is a medium-sized (length 29-33 cm, wingspan 50-54 cm, weight 150-230 gm), long-billed, migratory wader.


Identification

Identifiable as aGallinago snipe by its cryptically-patterned black, brown, buff and white plumage, but is not easily distinguished from Swinhoe's and Pin-tailed Snipe in the field, though it is slightly larger.


Distribution

Breeds mainly in Hokkaid? in northern Japan, with smaller numbers on Honsh?, the eastern Russian mainland and, historically, Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands. The entire population migrates and spends the non-breeding season principally in eastern Australia, where it is the commonest Gallinago snipe. Recorded on migration in Taiwan, the Philippines and New Guinea, and is a rare straggler to New Zealand.


Habitat

Breeding habitat in Asia: alpine moorland, grasslands, rough pasture, young tree plantations and cultivated areas. Non-breeding habitat in Australia: shallow freshwater wetlands of various kinds with bare mud or shallow water for feeding, with good nearby vegetation cover for shelter.


Food

Mainly small invertebrates (i.e., insects) and seeds with some vegetation.


Breeding

Display flights and “drumming” by the males. Nests on the ground, concealed in vegetation, with a clutch of four eggs.


Conservation

Internationally, Latham’s Snipe is considered to be a species of Least Concern. In Australia it used to be hunted as a gamebird but is now completely protected.


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