|Male on water|
Medium-sized, plump wading bird. Long reddish-brown bill, slightly decurved at tip, and distinct white or pinkish eye patch. Rounded, buff-spotted wings and short tail. White of breast extends up around top of folded wing. The painted-snipe is not related to the true snipes and differs from them in habits, flight and appearance, being far more colorful and having longer legs than the snipes. It is unusual in that the female is larger and more brightly colored than the male, with the sides of the head, neck and throat a rich chestnut brown, and a distinct black band across the breast; the male is paler and greyer.
Not a vocal species; the male at times utters a shrill trill, while the female makes a guttural ook sound as well as hissing noises during breeding displays.
Usually found close to the fringes of reed beds along shorelines of marshes, swamps, ponds and streams.
Solitary or in pairs, sometimes in groups of up to 12. Rather shy and retiring, skulking close to the vegetation so that it can retreat to cover if disturbed. When flushed, flies like a rail with legs dangling. Bobs hindquarters on landing and sometimes when walking. Probes for food in the mud. The female initiates courtship and may mate with more than one male. The male incubates the eggs.
Food and feeding
They feed on insects, crustaceans, molluscs and seeds.
The females court the males, are polyandrous with males incubating and raising the young as predicted by parental investment theory. Chicks are buff coloured and have black stripes running along their length. Immature birds resemble the male but lack the broken dark band across the breast. Males are also known to carry the chicks to safety under the wings.
The nest is usually a shallow scrape in soft ground, lined with plant material and situated among grass or reeds at the water's edge; sometimes a pad of vegetation or a nest of grass and weeds. The breeding season is between April and July.
Egg of Rostratula benghalensis – Muséum de Toulouse, France
Closer view of a female – Kruger National Park, South Africa
Male with chicks - Hong Kong, China
- BirdLife International (2012). "Rostratula benghalensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- "Rostratula benghalensis (Greater Painted-snipe) - Avibase". avibase.bsc-eoc.org. Retrieved 2017-10-16.
- Shigemoto Komeda (1983). "Nest Attendance of Parent Birds in the Painted Snipe (Rostratula benghalensis)". The Auk. 100 (1): 48–55.
- Wesley, H.D. (1993). "Breeding behaviour sequential polyandry and population decline in (Rostratula benghalensis)". In Verghese, A; Sridhar, S; Chakravarthy, AK (eds.). Bird Conservation: Strategies for the Nineties and Beyond. Ornithological Society of India, Bangalore. pp. 166–172.
- Wesley, H Daniel. "A male painted snipe and his chick". Newsletter for Birdwatchers. 30 (7&8): 3.
- (Greater) Painted snipe - Species text in The Atlas of Southern African Birds
- BirdLife Species Factsheet.
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