Jack Snipe

Lymnocryptes minimus

There are only five records for this small old-world snipe in North America.  Two of the five come from the marshes of Saint Paul Island.  The first individual for the country was furnished in 1919, although it is not clear whether the record came from spring or from fall.  The three non-Priblof records are all from winter, and were all obtained by hunters.  The most recent record was of a single bird in Pumphouse Lake on June 16 and 17, 2004.  Poor photographs were obtained of this bird in flight.  Jack Snipes are significantly smaller than either Common or Wilson’s Snipes, have a distinctive wedge-shaped tail, broad golden mantle lines on a very dark back, streaks down the flanks, and a very short (for a snipe) bill.  They are very secretive and reluctant to flush.  When flushed the 2004 bird did not call and it rapidly flew back into the cover provided by the thick grasses around the lake margins.  The small size (smaller than a Rock Sandpiper), wedge shaped tail, short bill and distinctive striped face pattern were evident in flight.  Finding a Jack Snipe on the Pribilofs is mainly an exercise in luck and good timing but the possibility of this or other rare shorebirds should make the practice of “pond-stomping” more entertaining.snipe