Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Imperial Snipe

Staging site


©Paul Greenfield

Class: Aves

Order: Charadriiformes


Scientific Name:Gallinago imperialis

IUCN Red List status: Near Threatened

Protected by the following WLT projects:


Species Range (IUCN)


For almost a century the Imperial Snipe was one of the world's mystery birds as it was known only from two specimens, the source of which was uncertain. It was first 'discovered' in life in 1967 in the Andes of Peru, and was first found in Ecuador in 1990 by Niels Krabbe, high on Volcan Pichincha. Krabbe subsequently located the species at 12 other sites in Ecuador.


It is very retiring in its behaviour, but is noted for its spectacular display flight just before dawn and at dusk, when it flies high in the sky and descends to perch on thick horizontal branches while emitting its strange calls.

Imperial Snipe
A female imperial Snipe at the Tapichalaca Reserve


The Imperial Snipe lives in elfin forest at the treeline/paramo border at about 3000-3500 metres altitude in the tropical Andes of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. A substantial population of imperial snipes was found at Tapichalaca during survey work in February 2003, by Niels Krabbe, and his assistant Joanne Heathcote.

This special bird can also be encountered (at dawn or dusk) at one of Fundación Jocotoco's other reserves at Yanacocha on Volcan Pichincha near Quito, the capital of Ecuador.

Threats and Conservation

Protect habitat for the Imperial Snipe: Donate to The Ecuador Rainforests project

Learn more about the Imperial Snipe

See IUCN Red List of Threatened Species for more information on the classification of the Imperial Snipe.
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