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Imperial Snipe Gallinago imperialis
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This little-known and elusive species apparently has a small population, and in some areas it is likely to be declining owing to destruction and degradation of its páramo habitat. It is consequently classified as Near Threatened, but may be downlisted to Least Concern if it is found to be more common and widespread than is currently known.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #

Distribution and population
Gallinago imperialis was considered extinct for over half a century, but has been found at approximately six sites in Peru since 1967, and at 12 locations in Ecuador since 1988 (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990, Krabbe 1992, Piersma 1996b, Krabbe et al. 1997, Williams et al. 1997). In Ecuador, it probably occurs continuously along the east and west slopes, on massifs from Carchi to Cotopaxi (Krabbe et al. 1997). In Peru, it is perhaps equally widespread on the east slope, although it apparently occurs at very low densities (4-5 displaying within 1.6 km2 of suitable ridge-top habitat) (Terborgh and Weske 1972), and known populations are small and localised (Johnsgard 1981, Krabbe 1992). Also recorded in Colombia. If the number of records and known sites continue to increase, it may be downlisted to Least Concern.

Population justification
The population is preliminarily estimated to number at least 10,000 individuals, roughly equating to 6,700 mature individuals. This requires confirmation.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat degradation.

It occurs around the tree-line at 2,745-3,700 m, where it is probably largely restricted to bogs and moist elfin forest intermixed with tree-ferns and tall grass, but is also found in bamboo-fringed glades with extensive Sphagnum mosses (Krabbe 1992, Piersma 1996b).

Burning, grazing and conversion for agriculture of the páramo has negatively affected areas adjacent to the tree-line, consequently destroying and degrading its preferred habitat mosaic (Stattersfield et al. 1998).

Conservation Actions Underway
None is known. Conservation Actions Proposed
Research its biology. Effectively protect remaining core areas of páramo. Search for the species in potentially suitable habitat.

Fjeldså, J.; Krabbe, N. 1990. Birds of the high Andes. Apollo Books, Copenhagen.

Johnsgard, P. A. 1981. The plovers, sandpipers and snipes of the world. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, U.S.A. and London.

Krabbe, N. 1992. Notes on distribution and natural history of some poorly known Ecuadorian birds. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 112: 169-174.

Krabbe, N.; Poulsen, B. O.; Frølander, A.; Barahona, O. R. 1997. Range extensions of cloud forest birds from the high Andes of Ecuador: new sites for rare or little-recorded species. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 117: 248-256.

Piersma, T. 1996. Scolopacidae (Sandpipers, Snipes, and Phalaropes). In: del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. (ed.), Handbook of the birds of the world, pp. 444-533. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Stattersfield, A. J.; Crosby, M. J.; Long, A. J.; Wege, D. C. 1998. Endemic bird areas of the world: priorities for bird conservation. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Terborgh, J.; Weske, J. S. 1972. Rediscovery of the Imperial Snipe in Peru. The Auk 89: 497-505.

Williams, R. S. R.; Best, B. J.; Heijnen, T. 1997. A guide to birdwatching in Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands. Biosphere Publications, Leeds, U.K.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

View photos and videos and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Capper, D., Sharpe, C J, Symes, A.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Gallinago imperialis. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Scolopacidae (Sandpipers, Snipes, Phalaropes)
Species name author Sclater & Salvin, 1869
Population size 6700 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 78,100 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species