Latham’s snipe breed in Japan and migrate south for the non-breeding period. A significant component of this project is determining where they go, and why they choose specific locations. Our goal is to identify key staging and wintering sites, so these can be better protected or managed.

Current understanding

Latham’s snipe breed in the northern half of Japan, primarily Hokkaido, the southern half of Sakhalin Island, and the adjacent Russian mainland and Kuril Islands. Individuals begin to arrive in Japan in late March or April, with a peak in mid-May, and the last birds arrive in June. Following breeding, the first birds depart Japan in late July, and migration peaks in mid-August, and the last birds leave by early October.

Breeding grounds of Latham's snipe. Image from Birdlife International.
Breeding grounds of Latham’s snipe. Image modified from Birdlife International.

Birds in Australia show a complementary pattern: the first birds arrive in August and September, while they begin to depart southern Australia in February, and the last birds leave northern Australia in May. In most years there are one or two records of overwintering birds from Australia, but these are likely to be rare.

Non-breeding distribution for Latham's snipe. The dots are location records and the grey is their general range. Map compiled from the Atlas of Living Australia.
Non-breeding distribution for Latham’s snipe. The dots are location records and the grey is their general range. Map compiled from the Atlas of Living Australia.

Very few records of Latham’s snipe exist between their breeding and non-breeding grounds. There are a couple of records from the Philippines and Taiwan, but too few to determine the species’ migration routes, or stopover sites.

Header image of Latham’s snipe courtesy of Dean Ingwersen

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