The African snipe (Gallinago nigripennis) also known as the Ethiopian snipe, is a small stocky wader. This 30?32 cm (12?13 in) long snipe has a stocky body and relatively short legs for a wader. Its upperparts, head and neck are streaked and patterned with bold dark brown stripes and gold edges to the feathers forming lines down its back. The belly is white, with some brown barring on the flanks but never on the belly. The pinkish-brown bill is very long, straight and fairly robust. The legs and feet are yellowish-olive to greenish-grey. The sexes are similar, and immatures differ only in showing pale fringes on the wing coverts. It shows white trailing edges on the wings and white tail corners in flight. The African snipe can only be confused with the three migrant snipes that occur in its range, common, pin-tailed and great snipe. Great snipe is obviously larger, darker, and relatively shorter billed. Pintail snipe lacks the white trailing edges on the wings and its tail corners have very little white. The common snipe is very similar to African although African is darker above and longer-billed; identification on the ground is very difficult. In flight, African has a slower, more fluttering flight on its more rounded wings, and zig-zags less when flushed. The more extensive white in the tail is often obvious.


Habitat and Distribution

It breeds in eastern and southern Africa in wet mountain moorland and swamps at altitudes of 1,700?4,000 m (5,600?13,100 ft). When not breeding it disperses widely, including into coastal lowlands.


Calls and Songs

The African snipe makes a hleep call as it takes off, and has a far carrying kip call when breeding.