This very rare bird has exactly the bill of the most typical snipes, overshot, broader at the tip than the middle, and so soft" and full of nerve-endings at the tip that it becomes pitted when drying after death ; it can be distinguished from all true snipe and their painted imitator, however, by having the toes webbed at the base, whereas the toes of snipe are free to the very root.
In this basal webbing of the toes the snipe-billed godwit shows its relationship to the godwits proper, although in these ' the web is less developed, and its plumage is also a godwit's, not a snipe's, being in winter variegated with drab and whitish, without the rich dark tints and creamy head- and back-stripes so usual in snipe, and in summer a bricky red with dark markings on the back. It is nearly of the size of small male specimens of the bar-tailed godwit, being rather over a foot long, and it resembles that bird in the barred colouring of its tail, so that it might easily be confused with it, were it not for the fact that the plumage does not show the distinct dark streaking of the god¬wit's upper parts, and that the bill is truly snipe-like and not tapering, but bulging at the end.
Extremely little is known about this bird, which has not been found commonly anywhere; it is supposed to breed in Siberia, and a few specimens have been got in north-east Asia. A few also have been obtained in our Indian Empire in the cold weather, at intervals of many years.
Jerdon seems to have got the first recorded specimen in the Madras Market in 1844; and since then it has been obtained in that of Calcutta by Blyth in 1847, and Hume in 1878; and near this time Oates shot a pair in Lower Pegu. This bird has also been killed in Assam, and is known to occur in China and as far to the south-east as Borneo. But hardly anything is known about it, which is the more to be wondered at, as its only near relative, the so-called red-breasted snipe (Macrorhamphus griseus) of America, is well known to shore-gunners there, and has even strayed to the British Islands. Among other birds of this group only greenshanks and golden plover can be noted.