Pintail snipe (Gallinago stenura)

Pintail snipe on ground
Loading more images and videos...

Pintail snipe fact file

Pintail snipe description

GenusGallinago (1)

The pintail snipe has beautifully mottled black, brown and reddish-brown plumage, providing the bird with superb camouflage. The plumage on the underside is pale and a dark stripe runs across each eye, with lighter streaks above and below. The pintail snipe is very similar in appearance to its relative, the common snipe, except for darker colouring under the wings and a shorter, but still pointed, two-toned bill (2). The tail of the pintail snipe contains 26 feathers (4), with the outermost eight feathers on each side being specially adapted to produce sound. These pin-like feathers are very narrow, strong and stiff, and by vibrating these feathers the pintail snipe produces a fizzing sound (5) (6).   

Also known as
Pin-tailed snipe.
Bécassine à queue pointue.
Wingspan: 44 - 48 cm (2)
Length: 25 - 27 cm (2)
85 - 125 g (2)

Pintail snipe biology

Between May and August the pintail snipe breeds in wet, marshy habitats in the northern parts of its range, before migrating huge distances in small groups of five to ten birds. The nest is typically just a simple depression in the ground, situated out of sight, hidden amongst vegetation (3). The pintail snipe is renowned for its peculiar display it performs during the breeding season, which incorporates undulating flight, gliding, calling, and plunging dives accompanied by the sound of its vibrating tail feathers (5).

The diet of the pintail snipe is comprised mainly of molluscs and insects, but also includes earthworms and crustaceans, as well as some seeds and plant material. Typically foraging by picking and probing at the earth with its long, pointed beak, the pintail snipe is mostly nocturnal but will also feed during the day (7).  


Pintail snipe range

The pintail snipe’s breeding range extends across Siberia, from the Ob River to Chukota (2). During the winter months it migrates southward to Central and Southeast Asia, as far south as Indonesia (2) (3). Occasionally, it may also be found in parts of Australia and eastern Africa (3).


Pintail snipe habitat

During the breeding season the pintail snipe is found in damp marshes and tundra (3), while outside of the breeding season, it inhabits a wider variety of wetlands, including flooded fields, wet grasslands, swamps and marshland (3).


Pintail snipe status

Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern


Pintail snipe threats

Throughout its range, the pintail snipe is impacted by hunting. However, due to the fact that it has a wide range and a large and stable population, it is not currently considered to be at risk of extinction (3).


Pintail snipe conservation

The pintail snipe is one of the 255 species of bird to which the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement applies. This agreement, which covers 118 countries, seeks to protect species dependent on wetlands, and calls upon countries to engage in a wide range of conservation actions, such as habitat conservation, species research, and public education (8)

Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi is a principal sponsor of ARKive. EAD is working to protect and conserve the environment as well as promoting sustainable development in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

To learn more about the conservation of waterbirds see:

For more information on this and other bird species please see:



This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

This species information was authored as part of the Arkive and Universities Scheme.


Diverse group of arthropods (a phylum of animals with jointed limbs and a hard chitinous exoskeleton) characterised by the possession of two pairs of antennae, one pair of mandibles (parts of the mouthparts used for handling and processing food) and two pairs of maxillae (appendages used in eating, which are located behind the mandibles). Includes crabs, lobsters, shrimps, slaters, woodlice and barnacles.
A diverse group of invertebrates, mainly marine, that have one or all of the following; a horny, toothed ribbon in the mouth (the radula), a shell covering the upper surface of the body, and a mantle or mantle cavity with a type of gill. Includes snails, slugs, shellfish, octopuses and squid.
Active at night.


  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2010)
  2. Polar Conservation Organisation (November, 2009)
  3. BirdLife International (November, 2009)
  4. Grzimek, B. (1984) Animal Life Encyclopedia. Volume 7: Birds. Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, New York.
  5. Byrkjedal, I. (1990) Song flight of the pintail snipe Gallinago stenura on the breeding grounds. Ornis Scandinavica, 21(4): 239-247.
  6. Whistler, H. (2007) Popular Handbook of Indian Birds. Gurney and Jackson, London.
  7. Robinson, R.A. (2005) BirdFacts: Profiles of Birds Occurring in Britain and Ireland. BTO Research Report 407, BTO, Thetford.
  8. AEWA (November, 2009)

Image credit

Pintail snipe on ground  
Pintail snipe on ground

© Ingo Waschkies /

Ingo Waschkies


Link to this photo

Arkive species - Pintail snipe (Gallinago stenura) Embed this Arkive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to Arkive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about



MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite Arkive images and videos and share them with friends.

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

This species is featured in:

This species is featured in Jewels of the UAE, which showcases biodiversity found in the United Arab Emirates in association with the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi.

This species is featured in:

This species is affected by global climate change. To learn about climate change and the species that are affected, visit our climate change pages.

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!


Back To Top