Date of Award:

1-1-1976

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Wildland Resources

Advisor/Chair:

Jessop B. Low

Abstract

The study addresses five areas relating to the biology and management of common snipe (Capella gallinago), including habitat requirements, food habits , breeding biology, sexing and aging and census techniques.

The primary habitat requirement of snipe was determined to be areas that were saturated or covered with shallow water . Secondary requirements were vegetation of less than 3 decimeters in height and between 30 and 50 percent density.

Food habit studies determined that snipe selected animal material with larger and more abundant organisms being preferred without regard to species . Plant material appeared to be ingested only i r.cidentally.

Common snipe u se winnowing as a courtship display, distraction device and a means of defining territory. Winnowing activity was most intense in periods of subdued light and cooler temperatures . A ground call emitted from a perch also was used to define territory . Snipe on the ground were observed to use the fanned, erect rectrices as a courtship display and as a distraction device.

No new techniques were developed for externally sexing snipe and previously used techniques were unreliable. Using the presence of a faint black t erminal line on the rectrices as indication of an immature, 84. 5 percent of 58 snipes were correctly aged. A previously suggested method using the characteristics of the upper wing coverts correctly aged 84. 0 percent of snipe correctly. Discriminant functions developed for externally sexing and aging snipe are not considered reliable because of measurement difficulties and variations in samples.

Strip census methods and capture- recapture techniques tested were not effective in estimating snipe populations . The use of average territory size divided into the amount of suitable habitat and actual counts resulted in reliable estimates of the population.

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