basic information

Swinhoe's Snipe

Gallinago megala (Swinhoe, 1861)

Лесной дупель | Орман маңқысы

Sorbulak Lake, Almaty oblast
© Gennadiy Dyakin


In fresh autumn plumage center of forehead, crown and nape are black. Yellow strip passes from base of bill to crown, the same strip passes from base of bill above the eye. Head-flanks are yellowish black-mottled. The center of back and shoulders are black with yellowish edges of feathers; the yellow broad strips passes on sides of back. The rear-back and uppertail are blackish with narrow yellowish croass-streaks. Upper tail coverts are yellowish with black cross strips. Throat is white. The neck's fore and flanks, craw, fore-breast and flanks are yellowish cross-streaked. Rear-breast and belly are white. Undertail is yellowish dark cross-striped. Flight feathers are greyish-brown, the secondaries are with narrow white tips. Elongated secondaries are dark-brownish rusty cross-striped. The broad central pairs of tail feathers are black-based, brown-rusty in terminal part with black pre-terminal band. In spring plumage birds are much paler and more mottled than in autumn one, black feathers are with rusty mottles. Bill is black, legs are greenish-brown. Eyes are dark-brownish. Swinhoe's Snipe is very similar to Common and Pin-tailed Snipes by habit and coloring, the main distinctions is in the frame of tail. Outer tail feathers are narrow, about 2 mm width, very asymmetric, outer webs are much narrow than inner ones. Next four pairs of tail feathers are broader than previous ones on 1 mm; sixth pair from side and all other inner tail feathers are broad. All outer narrow tail feathers are taut and hard, without preterminal contraction as on Pin-tailed Snipe. Sizes: wing 134-145, tarsus 32-37, bill 56-69 mm. Weight: males 122-144, females 136-138 gr.


Swinhoe's Snipe breeds in mountains of Western Altai, in Bukhtarma valley, near Ridder, on Ivanovskiy ridge, though on Markakol lake not found. Probably it nests also in Saur ridge and in Zailiyskiy Alatau where female with enlarged follicles was obtained 5 June 1964. Individuals were shot at end of October 1909 on northern slopes of Karatau, on Tarturgay station near Kzyl-Orda at 5 January 1910 and in Pskent village at 11 November 1908.


Swinhoe's Snipe is rare breeding migrant. It inhabits wet tussock meadows with high grass in taiga belt, or sub-alpine marshes with birch and willow shrubs near the forest, at 600-2100 m. Arrives in May, latest migrant (or probably nesting bird) near Bolshoye Almatinskoye lake (2500 m) obtained 5 June 1964. Displaying flights observed from 10 May up to 30 June. Female builds nest in shallow hole lined with dry grass. Clutches of 4 eggs in June – early July. Juveniles hatch until early July. Close to Ridder 21 June a brood with small chicks observed. They begin to fly in end June – early August. Autumn migration begins from mid-August, and they leave breeding places up to end August. In foothills on south Kazakhstan migrating birds were recorded in mid-August, individuals were observed in end October – mid-November.


Э.И.Гаврилов. "Фауна и распространение птиц Казахстана". Алматы, 1999.
Gavrilov E. I., Gavrilov A. E. "The Birds of Kazakhstan". Almaty, 2005.
"Птицы Казахстана" том 2. "Наука". Алма-Ата, 1962.


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