Meadow birds

Common Snipe

Bleating "flying goat"

In flight, the vibrating tail feathers of the Snipe produce a booming or “bleating” sound. This sound has earned it the name “flying goat”. On the ground, however, Snipes can rarely be seen because of their good camouflage. They are diurnal and nocturnal, with a peak of activity during twilight. 

When foraging, they probe the upper soil layers with their long and sensitive beak for small animals, such as earthworms, snails and insect larvae. During the breeding season, the pairs defend their territories against intruders. Outside of the breeding season, Snipes tend to be solitary, but also occur in groups in wet meadows and on the muddy banks of ditches and tideways.


Scientific nameGallinago gallinago
CallTwee-ke … twee-ke
FoodSmall invertebrates
In breeding groundsMarch to July
Clutch size2–5, usually 4
Broods per year1–2
Population trend in EuropeDeclining


More information

Find out more about the Common Snipe.


The Snipe is a breeding bird of open and moist to wet lowland landscapes. It prefers dense vegetation that is rich in cover, in which it can hide itself as well as its nest. In addition to wet meadows, Snipes also inhabit moorland, sedge meadows, wet fallow land and siltation areas.


Snipes are migratory birds. From March to July they are in their breeding grounds, which include the German state of Lower Saxony and the Dutch province of Fryslân. When their chicks have fledged, both adult and young birds migrate to Western Europe or the Mediterranean to spend the winter.


For the protection of the Snipe, it is essential to conserve and restore suitable wet habitats. This includes, in particular, the rewetting of structurally and nutrient-rich grasslands with shallow waters and shallow shore areas. 

The breeding areas may only be managed extensively, i.e. without fertilisers and pesticides, among other things. The renaturation of raised bogs also contributes to the conservation of the Snipe.