Wilson’s Snipe – Year Round Resident?

Over the last month I have regularly checked a local “marshy” area to see how long WILSON’S SNIPE will hang around. Last winter I checked twice in December flushing 5 on the 20th. I didn’t get back until February 6 when I flushed 6. With the winter not being overly harsh I figure they were present all winter. They have been present this spring and Saturday taking a short stroll through the marsh flushed three.  I stopped after 1 as not to disturb any others but flushed 2 more on taking a way out I didn’t think they would be located.

Wilson's Snipe - One of four that were on a mud island at Atterbury FWA. By November there were up to 10 at this location. 082513

My first year here in Indiana was dry and Honker Haven at Atterbury FWA was low. Numerous shorebirds including Wilson’s Snipe would be on the mud islands. By November there were up to 10 snipe present at this location. 8/25/13

WISM Summer Wilson's Snipe

The image on the left shows Wilson Snipe’s eBird occurrence for June (all years 1900 -2016) and on the right for Jun-Jul (all years 1900-2016). My sighting from yesterday is the red dot below Indianapolis.

Looking at the eBird map for June shows very few records in Indiana except for the concentration around Goose Pond. And I’m sure there have been more at Goose Pond not recorded on eBird.

WISN Range Map

As seen on a range map from The Birds of North America Online, we are well south of the breeding range of the Wilson’s Snipe.

Checking Brock’s Birds of Indiana we see the average departure date for Central Indiana is May 6 and there are is an “n” in the 20-Year Abundance Table which indicates no records (over the past 20 years).

WISN Brock

Wilson’s Snipe Table taken from Brock’s Birds of Indiana by Kenneth J. Brock

A line from The Birds of North America Online sums it up, “Marshy habitat, cryptic coloration, and crepuscular habits make for remarkably poor knowledge of this common species.”

Like the above sentence states, how does one check on the snipe without disturbing them? More importantly how do you check for young when you can’t even see the adults? Tread softly looking for a nest? Tough situation.

I’d sure like to know if they are breeding in the marsh but it might not be possible except by knowing there is snipe there the entire summer.

I’m open for suggestions.

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