Wilson's Snipe, named for famed American ornithologist Alexander Wilson, is a plump, long-billed shorebird that, like American Woodcock and Mountain Plover, is often found far from shorelines.

Once considered a subspecies of Common Snipe, an Old World species, Wilson's Snipe was recognized as a distinct species in 2003 based on its number of tail feathers and other morphological and vocal differences.

The bird’s stocky, top-heavy appearance is a result of extra-large pectoral muscles that give snipe the ability to explode into the air. Their fast, zig-zagging flight can reach 60 miles per hour and makes them prized by game hunters — so much so that the word "sniper," which originally referred to a snipe hunter, has become a term for a skilled shooter able to hit difficult targets.

Wilson's Snipe depend on freshwater wetlands throughout their life cycles, and habitat loss is the species' biggest threat. Collisions with communications towers and glass are another major problem for these birds.

See video of the snipe's "sewing machine" feeding style>>

Wilson's Snipe map, NatureServe
 

Photo: Wilson's Snipe by FotoRequest, Shutterstock; Range Map: NatureServe

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