Imperial Snipe Gallinago imperialis


Justification of Red List Category
This little-known and elusive species apparently has a small population, and in some areas it is likely to be declining owing to destruction and degradation of its páramo habitat. It is consequently classified as Near Threatened, but may be downlisted to Least Concern if it is found to be more common and widespread than is currently known.

Population justification
The population is preliminarily estimated to number at least 10,000 individuals, roughly equating to 6,700 mature individuals. This requires confirmation.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat degradation.

Distribution and population

Gallinago imperialis was considered extinct for over half a century, but has been found at approximately six sites in Peru since 1967, and at 12 locations in Ecuador since 1988 (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990, Krabbe 1992, Piersma 1996b, Krabbe et al. 1997, Williams et al. 1997). In Ecuador, it probably occurs continuously along the east and west slopes, on massifs from Carchi to Cotopaxi (Krabbe et al. 1997). In Peru, it is perhaps equally widespread on the east slope, although it apparently occurs at very low densities (4-5 displaying within 1.6 km2 of suitable ridge-top habitat) (Terborgh and Weske 1972), and known populations are small and localised (Johnsgard 1981, Krabbe 1992). Also recorded in Colombia. If the number of records and known sites continue to increase, it may be downlisted to Least Concern.


It occurs around the tree-line at 2,745-3,700 m, where it is probably largely restricted to bogs and moist elfin forest intermixed with tree-ferns and tall grass, but is also found in bamboo-fringed glades with extensive Sphagnum mosses (Krabbe 1992, Piersma 1996b).


Burning, grazing and conversion for agriculture of the páramo has negatively affected areas adjacent to the tree-line, consequently destroying and degrading its preferred habitat mosaic (Stattersfield et al. 1998).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
None is known.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Research its biology. Effectively protect remaining core areas of páramo. Search for the species in potentially suitable habitat.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Capper, D., Sharpe, C J, Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Gallinago imperialis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 06/04/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 06/04/2020.