Pin-tailed Snipe

Scientific Name: Gallinago stenura
Malay Name: Berkik Ekor Jarum
Chinese Name: 针尾沙锥
Alternative Name(s): Pintail Snipe

Breeds from central to east Russia as well as in Mongolia; winters in the Indian subcontinent and southeast Asia.


Size: 25-27 cm

One of three difficult-to-identify Gallinago snipes in Singapore. From Common Snipe, most obviously differentiated by a lack of clear white trailing edge to the secondaries, shorter bill and larger-headed appearance (see that species for more differences). Apart from a long list of overlapping and weakly defined separation features, only truly differentiable from Swinhoe's Snipe with a clear view of the spread tail (or measurements in the hand). This species has one (vs. more than one in Swinhoe's) intermediate-width feather between the wide central tail feathers and the eight (or, less frequently, six, seven, or nine) pin-like feathers on the outer-tail. These feathers are referred to as "pins" as they are extremely narrow, less than 2 mm wide. On Swinhoe's, only the outermost pair of tail feathers are narrow (varying from 2 to 4 mm wide), while the rest gradually increase in width towards the central feathers (giving the impression of at least two intermediate-width tail feathers outside the central few, while Pin-tailed shows only one when tail is fully spread).

Similar looking species: Swinhoe’s Snipe, Common Snipe

Habitat: Damp grasslands, edges of waterbodies, and muddy freshwater marshes.

Behaviour/Ecology: Flushed Pin-tailed Snipes tend to vocalize more than flushed Swinhoe's Snipes; a snipe that is silent when flushed is more likely Swinhoe's than Pin-tailed, but this is only suggestive. Vocal differences between the two species are poorly understood and more study may reveal that differentiation by flight calls is possible.

Local Status: Uncommon migrant

Conservation Status: Least Concern (BirdLife International 2016)

Location: Any area of suitable habitat, such as Jurong Lake Gardens, Lim Chu Kang Lane 3, and Kranji Marshes.


External Links:
Conservation Status: IUCN Red List Page
Photos: Oriental Bird Images
Sound Recordings: xeno-canto Link
Wikipedia Entry: Wikipedia Link

BirdLife International. (2016). Gallinago stenura. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016. Downloaded on 2 September 2021
Leader, P. J., & Carey, G. J. (2003). Identification of Pintail Snipe and Swinhoe’s Snipe. British Birds96, 178–198.
Robson, C. (2008). A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia. New Holland Publishers.
Bakewell, D. (2014). Keep Calm and Study Snipes! Part 2 [web log]. Retrieved September 19, 2021, from