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Species Guide

Least Seedsnipe

Thinocorus rumicivorus

The least seedsnipe, Thinocorus rumicivorus, is a diminutive bird, the smallest within the Thinocoridae family. It is characterized by its short tail and elongated, pointed wings. The legs and toes exhibit a subtle greenish-yellow hue, while the beak is ashen, resembling that of a finch or sand grouse.

Identification Tips

Adult males can be identified by their grey face, neck, and breast, with distinctive black lines forming an inverted "T" shape at the center of the throat. Their eyes are a dark grey, adding to their cryptic coloration.


This xerophilic species thrives in a variety of habitats, from temperate to subtropical or tropical high-altitude grasslands, as well as pasturelands. It is also found in diverse environments such as sandy beaches, open steppes, and even some open deserts in northern Chile.


The least seedsnipe breeds across Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Peru. Its presence is common throughout South America, with sightings in Ecuador, the Falkland Islands, Uruguay, Brazil, and as far as Antarctica. The species boasts an estimated range of approximately 1,300,000 km².


The male seedsnipe is known to perch on prominent bushes or fence posts to deliver nuptial calls, a rapid series of "pu-pu-pu-pu-pu" sounds, reminiscent of the Common Snipe. Adapted to arid environments, the seedsnipe maintains its water balance efficiently across temperatures ranging from 20 to 36°C, with a metabolic rate 38% lower than other non-passerine birds of similar size.

Song & calls

The nuptial calls of the male are a series of rapid "pu-pu-pu-pu-pu" sounds, serving as a mating signal to potential partners.


The female alone incubates the eggs, laying an average clutch of four in a simple nest scrape. Remarkably, she covers the eggs with her feet, using available dry plant material to conceal and possibly thermoregulate the nestlings, a behavior unique to the Thinocoridae.

Diet and Feeding

The least seedsnipe feeds predominantly on seeds, leaves, and buds, maintaining a strictly vegetarian diet in the wild. In captivity, they have been observed to consume mealworms. Their feeding apparatus is adapted for browsing, with a crop, a gizzard, and long intestinal caeca. They forage in a crouched position, snapping off plants and swallowing fragments whole, and are known to feed on the fleshy growths of Calceolaria uniflora flowers, inadvertently aiding in pollination.

Conservation status

The least seedsnipe is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN, with a stable population and an extremely large range, making it one of the most common birds in southern Patagonia.

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Least Seedsnipes on Birda

A map showing the sighting location
Steve Smith
12 Mar 2024 - 6:49pm

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