Snares Snipe Coenocorypha huegeli


Justification of Red List Category
This species has been extirpated from most of its historic range by introduced mammalian predators, to which it is highly susceptible. Declines have ceased as it is now confined to a few predator-free subantarctic islands where it is relatively secure within a very small range. Owing to the small number of locations that support the species and the small total population, it is considered Near Threatened.

Population justification
The Snares Islands population is about 400 pairs (Miskelly 2013), there were at least 500 birds estimated to be present on Putauhinu Island in early 2013, and translocated birds were confirmed breeding on Whenua Hou/Codfish Island in late 2012 (P. McClelland in litt. 2013), suggesting that the total population now numbers over 1,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The population has ceased to decline and is increasing following successful translocations.

Distribution and population

Coenocorypha huegeli is endemic to New Zealand, where it was historically restricted to the Snares Islands (3 km2). A translocation of birds occurred in 2005 to Putauhinu Island of the south west coast of Stewart Island and this population grew to at least 320 individuals in 2011 (Charteris and Miskelly 2005, Miskelly et al. 2012) and 500 birds in early 2013 (P. McClelland in litt. 2013). A second translocation of 30 individuals from the Snares Islands to Codfish Island/Whenua Hou took place in January 2013 (McClelland 2013).


The species favours areas of dense ground cover where it feeds on a wide variety of invertebrates. It nests on the ground or in the middle of Poa tussocks about 30cm above ground (hence its vulnerability to introduced mammals); nests have been found in December, with laying probably starting in November (Johnsgard 1981, Higgins and Davies 1996).


Many local extinctions have occurred in the past, probably caused by various introductions of Pacific rat Rattus exulans, cats, pigs and Weka Gallirallus australis (Higgins and Davies 1996). Such introductions brought about the extinction of C. iredalei and C. barrierensis, while R. exulans probably caused the extinction of C. aucklandica from mainland New Zealand around 1,000 years ago (Heather and Robertson 1997).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
The species has been successfully translocated to Putauhinu and Whenua Hou/Codfish Island.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor island populations opportunistically and consider reintroductions to predator-free islands off the New Zealand mainland if appropriate.


20-23 cm. Small, plump variegated brown wader. Bill brown and slightly drooping, 4.5 cm. This species has extensive dense barring across the lower breast, flanks and, sometimes, most of the belly. The upperparts are finely barred giving an overall uniform impression. Also the uppertail is densely barred. Similar spp. C. huegeli is the only member of the genus present on the Snares Islands, but C. aucklandica is more strongly marked with cream and chocolate streaking and the mid-belly is unpatterned. Voice. Males have a territorial loud call consisting of a series of vibrant monosyllabic notes that build to disyllabic whistles.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Khwaja, N., Taylor, J., Martin, R & Symes, A.

Miskelly, C. & McClelland, P.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Coenocorypha huegeli. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 07/08/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 07/08/2020.