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Snipe Hunt

You stay right here, hold on to this bag, and ...

One of the most ethereal of spring sounds is that made by the Wilson's Snipe. Much as if they were playing a reed instrument, the male snipe produces a winnowing sound in flight by metering, with his wings, the flow of air over his tail-feathers. Among the most venerable of practical jokes anywhere is the snipe hunt. Although most night-time snipe hunts are unsuccessful, you might be able to find one at a marsh near you. Begin by finding your local Audubon and signing up for a field trip.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 
BirdNote®
How About a Snipe Hunt?

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote!
[Wilson’s Snipe winnowing sounds]
One of the most ethereal of spring sounds is that made by a Wilson’s Snipe. Much as if they were playing a reed instrument, male snipe produce this winnowing sound in flight by using their wings to meter the flow of air over their tail feathers.
[Wilson’s Snipe winnowing sounds]
Among the most venerable of practical jokes anywhere is the snipe hunt. Many campers and scouts will recall this rite of passage. The young initiate is stationed alone in the dark countryside, holding a large burlap sack, and instructed to make the snipe call. The others move off into the dark, assuring the bag-holder that they will act as beaters, driving the snipe toward the bag.
[Wilson’s Snipe winnowing sounds]
And move off they do, returning back to camp, chuckling and waiting for the butt of the joke to catch on. The target of this ruse is, of course, “left holding the bag.”
Now that you are in on the gag, we suggest a drive to a wet meadow or marsh where Wilson’s Snipe perform in spring. And not to worry—this snipe, if you’ll take our word for it, is real.
 [Wilson’s Snipe winnowing sounds]
Learn more about the Wilson’s Snipe and see a great photo of it on our web site, BirdNote.org. I’m Mary McCann.
###

Call of the  provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York.  Recorded by
Producer:  John Kessler
Executive Producer:  Chris Peterson
© 2010 Tune In to Nature.org           April 2010

ID# 042506WISNKPLU        WISN-01b

 

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