‘Latham’s Snipe’ Migratory Bird

Latham’s Snipe shorebird fly non-stop from Japan to Australia twice in a year. The bird takes five days to cover the distance of thousands of kilometres of ocean for their survival.

Highlights

  • The migratory shorebird is similar in size to a blackbird.
  • It completes the gruelling migration to warmer climes and prepare itself for its return flight and next breeding season.

Latham’s snipe

The bird is also known as Japanese Snipe and is scientifically called as Gallinago hardwickii. It is a medium-sized, long-billed, migratory snipe in the East Asian–Australasian Flyway. It is 29–33 cm in length with a wingspan of 50–54 cm. It is 150–230 g in weight.

Features of the bird

The bird is identified as a Gallinago snipe by its cryptically-patterned black, brown, buff and white plumage. However, it is not easy to distinguish from Swinhoe’s and pin-tailed snipe.

Habitat

The bird mainly breeds in Hokkaido in northern Japan and in small proportion in Honshu (eastern Russian mainland).  Historically, it used to breed in Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands. Breeding habitat of the bird in Asia include alpine moorland, rough pasture, young tree plantations, grasslands and cultivated areas.

Migration

They migrate and spend most of their non-breeding season in eastern Australia, where it is the common Gallinago snipe. It has also been recorded on migration in Taiwan, New Guinea and the Philippines. It is a rare straggler to New Zealand.

Status of the bird

This bird is the Least Concern species.  In Australia it was earlier hunted as a gamebird but it is now protected. The bird is listed as “rare” under South Australia’s National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972.

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