Scientific name: Lymnocryptes minimus
This well-camouflaged wader is a winter visitor to the UK, where it can be seen feeding on wetlands with a distinctive bobbing motion.
Classified in the UK as Green under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015).
When to seeSeptember to April
AboutThe jack snipe is a small wading bird, similar to the more familiar common snipe. Unlike their common cousins, jack snipe are just winter visitors to the UK, spending the summer breeding on waterlogged bogs in northern Europe.
Jack snipe are secretive birds, often hidden in thick vegetation on marshes, wet grassland and in reedbeds. They use their long bill to probe the mud for insects, worms and even plant material, moving in a slight crouch and constantly bouncing up and down as if their legs were made of springs.
How to identifyA small wader, about two thirds the size of a common snipe, which it resembles in plumage. The upperparts are brown with golden stripes, the belly is white and the breast is buff with thin dark streaks.
Compared to a common snipe, the bill is much shorter with a relatively deeper base, and the top of the head is all dark, lacking the golden crown stripe. Also, the pale band above the eye (the supercilium) is split in two by a thin dark line, which looks a little like an eyebrow. The ‘bouncing’ feeding action is often distinctive, though common snipe will sometimes bob slightly as well.
Jack snipe are reluctant to fly from cover, preferring to hunker down and trust to their impressive camouflage. They will only flush when almost trodden on, usually only flying a short distance before dropping back into cover. Common snipe tend to flush much earlier, calling as they take to the air and then flying high and zigzagging erratically.