Pin-tailed Snipe

Scientific Name: Gallinago stenura

Malay Name: Berkik Ekor Jarum

Chinese Name: 针尾沙锥

Alternative Name(s): Pintail Snipe

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

Taxonomy: Monotypic.

Size: 25-27 cm

Identification: 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.

Migrant bar chart (see more bar charts):

Pin-tailed Snipe Gallinago stenura
Estimated average number of individuals by week based on eBird data, Jul 2013 to Jun 2023
Peak week Jan 01-Jan 07
Early date 20 Aug 1989
Late date 26 Apr 2009
The tail pattern is the only consistent way to distinguish this species from the rarer Swinhoe's Snipe. Good photographs of the spread tail are required: like while it preens, during landing, or very rarely, in mid-flight.


BirdLife International. (2016). Gallinago stenura. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016. Accessed on 1 January 2023

Leader, P. J., & Carey, G. J. (2003). Identification of Pintail Snipe and Swinhoe’s Snipe. British Birds, 96, 178–198.

Robson, C. (2014). Field guide to the birds of South-East Asia (Second Edition). Bloomsbury Publishing, London.

Bakewell, D. (2014). Keep Calm and Study Snipes! Part 2. Dig deep. Retrieved September 19, 2021, from

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