Snipe Hunting – Nov 16, 2006

Remember the old boy scout joke about going Snipe Hunting? I never got the joke because there really is such a thing as a Snipe. In fact, people do hunt them and the bag limit in Minnesota is 8. These birds are listed in the DNR’s Waterfowl Hunting Regulations along with Rails, Soras, and Woodcock.

Yesterday, on the lakeshore, there was a WILSON’S SNIPE the only species that breeds in Minnesota. It was kind of a warm day with the temp about 38 degrees. There was a light wind from the south and the mild temps were doing a quick job of melting the pesky snow that we got on Sunday night. The Snipe flew down the shoreline a ways when I tried to get a better look. When I relocated the bird, he blended into the beach so well that he looked like a rock. He spooked again and flew off across the lake.

The odd thing about this story is that after I had been gone a few hours I came back home to find the Snipe back on the beach sitting in the sun. After he flew away, I looked at the place where he had been sitting; there were several spots of whitewash (a sanitized word that birders use to describe excrement). I guess he was finding something to eat in the general vicinity. I hope he hangs around a few days; they are such an unusual looking bird. Snipes along with Woodcock are actually “shorebirds”, although they spend most of their time up here in the woods. An “Upland Shorebird”; isn’t that an oxymoron? Both of these birds do a dramatic aerial display flight in the early spring and they do it at night! It is fun to go out in the evening to listen and watch for these strange birds.

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