email a friend
printable version
Swinhoe's Snipe Gallinago megala
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend is not known, but the population is not believed to be decreasing sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
Christidis, L.; Boles, W. E. 2008. Systematics and taxonomy of Australian birds. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
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.

Population justification
The global population is estimated to number c.25,000-100,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006), while national population estimates include: c.50-10,000 individuals on migration in China; c.50-1,000 individuals on migration and c.50-1,000 wintering individuals in Taiwan; < c.1,000 individuals on migration and < c.1,000 wintering individuals in Japan and c.100-10,000 breeding pairs and c.50-1,000 individuals on migration in Russia (Brazil 2009).

Trend justification
The population trend is difficult to determine because of uncertainty over the impacts of habitat modification on population sizes.

Behaviour This species is strongly migratory (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It breeds from May to August (Hayman et al. 1986) in scattered solitary pairs (del Hoyo et al. 1996), and forages singly (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Coates and Bishop 1997) or in dispersed flocks outside of the breeding season (Coates and Bishop 1997). The species is crepuscular and nocturnal in its foraging activities (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Habitat Breeding It breeds in open deciduous or mixed deciduous/evergreen woodland, showing a preference for grassy areas near marshes and streams (del Hoyo et al. 1996), clearings (Johnsgard 1981), clear-cut areas (del Hoyo et al. 1996), woodland along river valleys (Hayman et al. 1986) and open regions of forest with meadows, thickets and young stands of aspen Populus spp. or birch Betula spp. (Flint et al. 1984). It generally avoids very wet or boggy sites during this season (Johnsgard 1981) but may occur on alpine meadows near the treeline (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Non-breeding In it's non-breeding range the species occurs in dense growths of grass and rushes around the edge of fresh and brackish (Higgins and Davies 1996) marshes (Higgins and Davies 1996, del Hoyo et al. 1996), swamps, pools, small streams, rice paddy-fields, sewage ponds (Higgins and Davies 1996, del Hoyo et al. 1996), rank grassland (Higgins and Davies 1996, Coates and Bishop 1997) and dry cultivated areas (e.g. with crops of rapeseed and wheat) (Higgins and Davies 1996). It may also be observed foraging among hummocks or on mudflats around seepage areas (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Diet Its diet consists of earthworms, adult and larval insects (e.g. glow-worms, beetles, ants and grasshoppers) (del Hoyo et al. 1996), terrestrial molluscs (Johnsgard 1981) and seeds (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Breeding site The nest is a simple scrape (del Hoyo et al. 1996) placed on dry substrates (Johnsgard 1981) with short grass (Flint et al. 1984) on slight elevations (del Hoyo et al. 1996) or mounds (Flint et al. 1984) in swamps and bogs (Johnsgard 1981), amongst bushes, or in the open in forest meadows (Flint et al. 1984, del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Brazil, M. 2009. Birds of East Asia: eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, eastern Russia. Christopher Helm, London.

Coates, B. J.; Bishop, K. D. 1997. A guide to the birds of Wallacea. Dove, Alderley, Australia.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Delany, S.; Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Flint, V. E.; Boehme, R. L.; Kostin, Y. V.; Kuznetsov, A. A. 1984. A field guide to birds of the USSR. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.

Hayman, P.; Marchant, J.; Prater, A. J. 1986. Shorebirds. Croom Helm, London.

Higgins, P. J.; Davies, S. J. J. F. 1996. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds vol 3: snipe to pigeons. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

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

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
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Gallinago megala. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016.

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 Least Concern
Family Scolopacidae (Sandpipers, Snipes, Phalaropes)
Species name author Swinhoe, 1861
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Unknown
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 2,840,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species