Chatham Island snipe chick, shore plover chick

“In 1868 this small snipe was collected at the Chatham Islands by Charles Traill. A specimen subsequently came into the hands of Buller who characterised it as a new species. In 1871 Travers visited the Chatham Islands and collected a number of specimens. He found the species on Mangere Island, where it was common, but nowhere else.

“Travers states that this snipe seldom flies and then only for a short distance. It lives in holes in the rocks, coming out in the evening to feed. When Fleming visited South East Island in 1937 he occasionally found a pair of snipe in the darkest posrtions of the bush. They were remarkably tame and could be approached without them being disturbed. Their flight was fast and fairly strong but they did not fly further than twenty feet.

“Its chief food is worms and grubs for which it scratches the ground in the same manner as a fowl; from this habit settlers have given it the name of chicken bird.

“It feeds at night and makes a twittering sound while doing so. The long sensitive bill woiuld be buried in the soft humus and would prod vigorously for insect larvae.

“The cry of this species is more frequently heard in the evening than in the daytime. It may be decribed as beginning as low sibilant chirrups and quickly working up to to a series of sharp toneful whistles on a high B repeated about eight or ten times in about five seconds.”

Chatham Island snipe
Sub Species:

Other common names:  — 

Gallinago pusilla, chicken bird.

Description:  — 

Endemic bird

20 cm., 105 g., like NZ snipe but smaller, shorther bill, and pale unmarked underparts.

Where to find:  — 

Chathams Islands group

Illustration description: — 


Ibis, 1893

Reference(s): — 


Oliver, W.R.B., New Zealand Birds, 1955.

Page date & version: — 


Saturday, 17 May, 2014; ver2009v1


©  2005    Narena Olliver,    new zealand birds limited,     Greytown, New Zealand.