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Species Guide

Australian Painted-snipe

Rostratula australis

The Australian painted-snipe, Rostratula australis, is a medium-sized wader with a long bill and a strikingly patterned plumage. The species exhibits sexual dimorphism, with females sporting a chocolate brown head and neck, while males have a dark grey head with a buff median stripe on the crown. A distinctive white stripe adorns the side of the breast and shoulders, and the eyes are highlighted by a cream, comma-shaped mark. The upperwing is grey, with males displaying buff spots. The underbody is white, and juveniles resemble adult males in appearance.

Identification Tips

To identify the Australian painted-snipe, look for the chocolate brown or dark grey head, the white stripe on the breast and shoulders, and the cream mark around the eye. The bird's length ranges from 24 to 30 cm, with a wingspan of 50 to 54 cm, and a weight between 125 to 130 grams. Females are generally larger and more vividly colored than males.


This species is endemic to Australia and favors shallow, freshwater wetlands with dense, low vegetation. It thrives in these habitats but will vanish when conditions deteriorate.


The Australian painted-snipe has a patchy and unpredictable distribution within Australia. Historically, the Riverina was a stronghold for the species.

Conservation Status

The Australian painted-snipe has experienced a significant decline during the 20th century and is now considered rare across its range. The decline is attributed to wetland drainage, river management, salinisation, and the grazing and trampling of wetlands by livestock. Population estimates range from a few hundred to a few thousand individuals. Nationally, it is classified as Vulnerable, while the IUCN lists it as Endangered.


The Australian painted-snipe is elusive and its presence in any given area is unpredictable.

Diet and Feeding

The diet consists of wetland invertebrates such as worms, molluscs, insects, and crustaceans, supplemented with seeds and other vegetation.


Breeding individuals prefer recently flooded wetlands with low vegetation for cover, shallow water, exposed mud for feeding, and small islands for nesting. They nest in ground scrapes or on mounds in water, lined with grass, leaves, and twigs. Clutches typically contain 3-4 cream-colored eggs with black streaks. Incubation lasts 15–16 days, and the young are precocial and nidifugous, meaning they are mobile and leave the nest shortly after hatching.

Similar Species

There are no similar species mentioned in the provided content.

Song & Calls

No call for the Australian painted-snipe has been recorded in the provided content.

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Australian Painted-snipes on Birda


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A photo of a South American Painted-snipe (Nycticryphes semicollaris)

South American Painted-snipe

Nycticryphes semicollaris
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