Animals -> Birds -> Shorebirds -> Snipe


Snipe is reported to have been eaten by the Coast Salish, Hare (Sahtu), Red Earth Cree, Iroquois, James Bay Cree, Montagnais (Innu) of the St. Lawrence and Micmac (Mi'kmaq) [1-7]. Hare roasted, grilled, fried or boiled snipe [6]. The Micmac plucked the feathers and roasted the birds on spits [3]. Yukon cultures tell stories that include the snipe. In one such story, this bird was summoned to puncture the stomach of a man who drank too much water [8]. Yukon cultures also believed that a child who played with snipe eggs would develop buttocks that wiggled in adulthood [8]. Mentions of snipe likely referred the to the Common Snipe and the Wilson’s Snipe that are closely related species once considered to be the same.


1.         Elberg N, Hyman J, Hyman K, Salisbury RF: Not By Bread Alone: The Use of Subsistence Resources among James Bay Cree. In.; 1975.

2.         Waugh FW. In: Iroquois Foods and Food Preparation. edn. Ottawa: Department of Mines. Government Printing Bureau; 1973.

3.         Stoddard NB: Micmac Foods, vol. re-printed from the Journal of Education February 1966. Halifax, Nova Scotia: Halifax Natural Science Museum; 1970.

4.         Meyer D: Appendix I: Plants, Animals and Climate; Appendix IV: Subsistence-Settlement Patterns. In: The Red Earth Crees, 1860-1960. Volume 1st edition, edn.: National Musem of Man Mercury Series; 1985: 175-185-200-223.

5.         Helm J (ed.): Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 6: Subarctic. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution; 1981.

6.         Hara HS: The Hare Indians and Their World. In. Ottawa: National Museums of Canada; 1980: 95-147.

7.         Suttles WP: Coast Salish and Western Washington Indians. In: Coast Salish and Western Washington Indians The Economic Life of the Coast Salish of Haro and Rosario Straits. edn. New York & London: Garland Publishing Inc.; 1974.

8.         McClellan C: My Old People Say: An Ethnographic Survey of Southern Yukon Territory-Part 1. Ottawa: National Musems of Canada; 1975.

Snipes are part of a large family of wading and probing shorebirds including sandpipers, phalaropes, whimbrels, yellowlegs, woodcocks, godwits, and dowitchers. The Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) is closely related to the Wilson’s Snipe (Gallinago delicata), which were until recently considered to be the same species. Common Snipes breed throughout most of Canada, except in the High Arctic, and most of northern United States. Most migrate south for the winter, but some are year-round residents in the southern portion of the breeding range, including in northwestern US and in southern Ontario and Quebec. Common Snipe weigh around 100 g and have a very long, straight bill, mottled brown upperparts, and whitish streaked underparts. They are most often alone in open areas around freshwater swamps, marshes, lakes, and rivers, foraging for invertebrates. They form monogamous solitary breeding pairs and nest very close to the water in a shallow depression lined with grass. They lay around 4 eggs and only females incubate and care for the young. They can live for up to 12 years and birds of prey are their main predators.


Muelle H: Wilson's Snipe (Gallinago delicata). In: The Birds of North America Online. Edited by Poole A. Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; 1999.


Distribution maps provided below, unless otherwise stated, were obtained from Birds of North America Online, maintained by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and all pictures provided below were obtained from Encyclopedia of Life
Common Snipe
Supplier: Wikimedia Commons
Photographer: Edd Deane

This map is based on occurrence records available through the GBIF network

Wilson's Snipe
© Jan
Supplier: Flickr: EOL Images
Photographer: Jan