1487. Gallinago gallinula.
The Jack Snipe.
Scolopax gallinula, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 244 (1766); Seebohm, Charadr. p. 480. Gallinago gallinula, Blyth, Cat. p. 272; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 676; Godw.-Aust. J. A. S. B. xxxix. pt. 2, p. 273; Hume, S. F. i, p. 235 ; Adam, ibid. p. 395; Butler, S. F. iv, p. 15 ; Fairbank, ibid. p. 263 ; v, p. 410; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 459 ; Davids. & Wend. S. F. vii, p. 88 ; Ball, ibid. p. 228 ; Cripps, ibid. p. 302 ; Hume, ibid. p. 484 ; id. Cat. no. 872 ; Scully. S. F. viii, p. 356 ; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 828; Hume & Marsh. Game B. iii, p. 378, pl. ; Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 84; Butler, ibid. p. 428 ; Reid, S. F. x, p. 69; Eden, ibid. p. 165 ; Davidson, ibid. p. 320; Davison, ibid. p. 414 ; Taylor, ibid. p. 465; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 384 ; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 346; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 321. Limnocryptes gallinula, Kaup, Naturl. Syst. p. 118: St. John, Ibis, 1889, p. 176; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. xxiv, p. 665.
Coloration. Crown and nape black, with rufous specks, very narrow on forehead between the broad buff superciliary stripes which run from the bill to the nape; no median pale band on crown ; sides of head whitish speckled ; a broad dark loral band from the bill to the eye, and a distinct dark cheek-stripe from just behind the gape to beneath the eye and ear-coverts ; hind nock and sides of neck fulvous-brown, with fine black bars and traces of white fringes ; back and scapulars black, glossed with metallic green and purple, spotted with rufous; outer webs of scapulars chiefly rich buff, forming a broad band down each side of the back ; outer webs of tertiaries rufous and black, with buff outer edges; lesser and median wing-coverts black with buff edges; larger secondary-coverts and primary-coverts, primaries and secondaries brownish black, tips of the coverts and secondaries white ; rump black, with purple and green gloss; upper tail coverts and tail-feathers dark brown with buff borders; chin whitish ; fore neck and upper breast brown mixed with white and with dark streaks ; lower breast and abdomen white; under tail-coverts white, with brownish shaft-stripes.
Bill blackish brown at tip, darkish brown on nostrils and along commissure, the rest paler ; irides deep brown ; legs pale greenish (Hume). Tail of 12 soft, pointed feathers.
Length 8.5 ; tail 2; wing 4.25 ; tarsus .95 ; bill from gape 1.6.
Distribution. This bird breeds in the North of Europe and Asia, chiefly north of the Arctic circle, and passes the winter in the southern countries of Europe and Asia and in N. Africa. It occurs throughout India, Ceylon, and Burma at that season, but is rare in the two latter, and most common in .Northern India.
Habits, &c. The Jack Snipe generally arrives in India in September and leaves in April. It is found in similar haunts to those of other Snipes, but generally in thicker cover, amongst thick grass or weeds or rushes, in damp rather than wet places ; it lies very close and rises silently with a peculiar fluttering flight, and it never flies far. As a rule it is a solitary bird and has an especial predilection for particular spots. Its food resembles that of other Snipes, and it is, according to many good authorities, the most delicately flavoured in a particularly delicious genus. Of course it never breeds in India: its eggs are remarkable for their large size ; the four eggs that it usually lays are said to weigh more than an ounce and a half, whilst the bird itself weighs but two.