South Island Snipe (Coenocorypha iredalei)

South Island Snipe

[order] CHARADRIIFORMES | [family] Scolopacidae | [latin] Coenocorypha iredalei | [UK] South Island Snipe | [FR] Becassine dAuckland | [DE] Aucklandschnepfe | [ES] Chochita de las Auckland | [NL]


Monotypic species

Physical charateristics

The snipe was similar to other Coenocorypha snipe, a small (21?24 cm in length), chunky and cryptically patterned wader with bars, stripes and spots in shades of brown ranging from buffy-white to nearly black, with longitudinal stripes on the face and crown. It had a long bill, with a short neck, legs and tail. The outer tail feathers were narrow and stiffened, a modification to produce the distinctive roaring sound of the nocturnal ?hakawai? aerial display. The species differed from others in the genus by details of plumage patterning and shading ? in having a scalloped breast and flanks with rufous and cinnamon tinges

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 21 cm size max.: 24 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 3  


Australasia : Small islands of Stewart Is., NZ


Like most other snipes it prefers wet open habitat with dense vegetation.


Littlke data, but this description is from 1936. Another nest placed also in the shelter of a low manuka cushion showed more care in construction; on granite grit and sand thickly littered with dracophyllum needles, it was piled a couple of inches high with moss, softest lichen and minutest lengths of frayed lissom manuka twiglets. Of this nest the eggs, also two in number and also large in proportion to the size of the Snipe, were greeny brown in hue with dark spottings and blotches evenly distributed over the whole surface

Feeding habits

A carnivorous species probing with its long beak for invertebrates and crustaceans


The South Island Snipe is extinct. Its prehistoric distribution comprised the South Island and Stewart Island, including some smaller islands off Stewart Island.
The final chapter of the story of the South Island Snipe came with the accidental introduction of Black Rats to Big South Cape Island, and the consequent attempt in 1964 by the New Zealand Wildlife Service to rescue the snipe by transferring individuals to a rat-free island. Two birds were caught on 30 August and placed in an aviary. However, they were difficult to care for because of their need for a continuous supply of live food, and both died on 1 September. Since then there have been no acceptable records of the species. Subsequently, some 40 years later on 16 April 2005, 30 Snares Snipe, then considered to be conspecific though a different subspecies, were translocated successfully by the New Zealand Department of Conservation to Putauhinu Island, only 1.5 km west of Big South Cape Island and a former home of South Island Snipe, after the rats were eradicated there.[
South Island Snipe status Extinct



Distribution map

South Island Snipe distribution range map

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