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Latham’s Snipe  – courtship display

on 27th March 2022

Post 1a is a composite of 4 sequential images to show the dive with open tail feathers.

Post 1b is another composite of 4 sequential images to show dive.

Snipe tend to be secretive and quiet while on migrate but they are very visible and vocal at their breeding grounds, especially during courtship. The Latham’s Snipe (Gallinago hardwickii) was easy to spot during our trip in June and we saw a number of courtship flight displays (usually April-June). The presumed males tend to seek a high vantage point, so as to be visible to the females; usually a utility pole (electrical pole, wire) or tree. They call loudly from the vantage point as well when in flight.

Post 2 shows a presumed male on a high tension wire.

I would consider their courtship display flights accompanied by advertising calls one of the wonders of the bird watching world; it has to be seen to be appreciated.

Post 3 shows a presumed male calling from the ground.

The presumed male flies high up (30-40 meters) and circles around, calling out for 35-40 seconds or longer. The terminal end of the display is often a dramatic dive with an accompanying noise made by opening the tail feathers to cause air resistance. The bird may then continue then to call from the vantage point or even from the ground (observed twice). These displays are repeated.

Post 4 shows a sonogram and waveform of the extended and regular calls

Post 4a is another sonogram of other extended calls made at the end of the dive.

They often occur in the early morning or evenings (our observation as well) but are said to also occur at night. The calls made in flight are regular at 2-3 calls per second, from my recordings. Each call last 1-1.5 seconds and is a low frequency sound (described by various authors in different ways). There are also longer calls made at the beginning or end of the display that can last 7-8 seconds.

Call recording here: https://www.xeno-canto.org/488222

Post 5. Bird on post.

Post 6. Another bird on post.

References:

  1. Oh-Jishigi. Latham’s Snipe. Bird Research News 2007, Vol.4 No.10. Japan Bird Research Association (http://www.bird-research.jp/1_shiryo/seitai/ojishigi.pdf)
  2. Latham’s snipe project (https://lathamssnipeproject.wordpress.com/2017/06/12/lathams-snipe-teams-second-visit-to-japan/)
  3. Mark Brazil. Birds of Japan. Helm Field Guides 2018
  4. Van Gils, J., Wiersma, P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Latham’s Snipe (Gallinago hardwickii). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Post 7. Bird in flight.

Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr) – Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Location: Kushiro, East Hokkaidō, Japan

Date: 11th June 2019

Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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