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Rostratulidae – Painted-Snipes

Greater Painted-snipe in Thailand: Photo by Ayuwat Jearwattanakanok

Welcome to our guide on painted-snipes, a small family found across parts of South America, Africa, and Asia, consisting of only two species. These birds are known for their distinctive plumage and interesting behaviors, including reversed sexual roles where females are more colorful and males care for the young.

Overview of Rostratulidae

Painted-snipes are elusive residents of lush tropical freshwater wetlands. Characterized by their round-tipped, slightly drooping bills, these birds forage quietly in shallow waters and flooded vegetation. When startled, they take flight with a slow, silent, rail-like movement, often with legs trailing behind. In the Old World, these birds are usually polyandrous, while their South American counterparts are likely monogamous. Their presence is difficult to predict in many areas, suggesting possible nomadic tendencies. Painted-snipes seem particularly adept at sensing changes in water levels and adapting their movements accordingly.