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Snipe Hunt!

Gregg Thompson went hunting for good photos of shorebirds in the rich wetlands of Juanita Bay, east of Seattle. He found several Wilson’s Snipes showing off their hunting skills.

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Cryptic brown, tan, and gray markings can make a Wilson’s Snipe hard to find in wet, open habitats like these mud flats.

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Their long, straight bills are perfect for probing deeply in mud and soft earth. The bill tip is flexible and has sensory receptors to help locate food. While the bill is still buried in the mud, the tip can open, grab, and suck up small morsels while the base of the bill stays closed.
                                                                                   
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These birds feed on invertebrates like insect larvae, crustaceans, snails, and worms. When opportunity presents, they may add lizards, frogs, fish, and even a nestling bird.

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                                                                           Gregg calls this the "flap dry and jump” move. 

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Apparently, this patch of mud flat is so good that a Wilson’s Snipe and a Long-billed Dowitcher are willing to share it.

Will this opportunist eat that yellow jacket flying so temptingly close by? What do you think?

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All photos are © Gregg Thompson and may not be used without permission.

Listen to these BirdNote stories about Wilson's Snipes:
Snipe Hunt
Two Wings and a Tail

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