Bird of the Week

Photo courtesy Charles Martinez
This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon

This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the Wilson’s snipe.
These plump, medium-sized shorebirds are most often seen at dusk or dawn at the edges of ponds, wet grassy meadows or marshy areas. Sometimes seen perched on fence posts, they may also be spotted performing high-speed aerial displays accompanied by hooting sounds produced by their short tail feathers. With short, thick legs and bills three times the length of their heads, they are well adapted for probing into mud in search of insect larvae, other invertebrates and the occasional frog, fish or lizard.
Though migratory, these hardy birds may be seen over wintering wherever they find ice-free bodies of water.
The Wilson’s snipe has intricate patterns of brown, black and sandy-colored bars, stripes and spots. Its camouflage can make it tough to spot. Its rounded head is dark with conspicuous whitish stripes. Its eyes are set far back on its head to provide excellent vision to the rear, front and sides. This adaptation enables the bird to avoid the approach of predators.
Colorado is near the southern edge of the bird’s breeding range. The female snipe scrapes a nest site on the ground near water hidden by willow, alders or sedges. Parent birds may feign injury, fluttering away from nests to distract predators. Chicks are capable of leaving the nest the day they hatch. Their current population remains stable.
For information on local bird-watching events, visit www.weminucheaudubon.org and www.facebook.com/weminucheaudubon/.

This story was posted on September 22, 2019.