The seedsnipes are a small family, Thinocoridae, of small gregarious waders which have adapted to a herbivorous diet. The family is divided into two genera, Attagis and Thinocorus, each containing two species. The family has a South American distribution, in the Andean and Patagonian regions. The relationships with other families within the order Charadriiformes are uncertain, it has been suggested that the plains wanderer of Australia, the jacanas and the painted snipes are their closest relatives.[1] The plains wanderer in particular has a similar feeding ecology, although differs markedly in breeding biology. The family's common name is misleading, as they do not resemble true snipe, having short bills on small heads, and seeds do not form a major part of the diet.[2] One species Thinocorus rumicivorus is however known to feed on the fleshy flower petal appendages of Calceolaria uniflora, a species of Scrophularaceae. In the process of feeding on these sugar rich appendages, they also pollinate the flowers.[3]

They resemble grouse, quail and sandgrouse, only with long wings.[2] The seedsnipes in the genus Thinocorus are smaller, ranging in size from a sparrow to a snipe, whereas the genus Attagis are larger, the size of a ptarmigan. They have short legs (but long toes) and tails. The colour of their plumage is generally cryptic. There is some sexual dimorphism in the plumage of the Thinocorus species, the males have grey faces, necks and breasts.

Seedsnipes inhabit a variety of harsh environments, including grasslands, grass steppes, semi-arid deserts and alpine habitats. The rufous-bellied seedsnipe ranges as far up as to the snowline (5500 m).

Their 2–3 eggs are laid in a shallow scrape on the ground.

Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe (Attagis gayi) - Papallacta - Ecuador
Rufous-bellied seedsnipe
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Suborder: Thinocori
Family: Thinocoridae
Gray, 1845


Thinocorus orbignyianus skull
A skull of a grey-breasted seedsnipe, in the collections of the Royal Ontario Museum



  1. ^ van Tuinen, Marcel; Waterhouse, David & Dyke, Gareth J. (2004): Avian molecular systematics on the rebound: a fresh look at modern shorebird phylogenetic relationships. Journal of Avian Biology 35(3): 191-194.
  2. ^ a b Fjeldså, J. (1996) "Family Thinocoridae (Seedsnipes)" in del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A. & Sargatal, J. (editors). (1996). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions. ISBN 84-87334-20-2
  3. ^ Sérsic, A. N.; Cocucci, A. A. (1996). "A Remarkable Case of Ornithophily in Calceolaria : Food Bodies as Rewards for a Non-nectarivorous Bird*". Botanica Acta. 109 (2): 172–176. doi:10.1111/j.1438-8677.1996.tb00558.x.

External links

Ana Lake

Ana Lake is a Patagonian lake in the Pali-Aike National Park. Birders frequent this locale to spot the least seedsnipe, Thinocorus rumicivorus, and other avafauna. Lago Ana is situated a few kilometres north of the Pali Aike Crater, a location from which archaeological recovery has evinced evidence of early prehistoric man in this region.Also Ana Lake is a lake in Ontario, Canada with Geographical coordinates 45°44'16" North and 79°02'24" West.


Attagis is a genus of seedsnipe, a South American family of small gregarious waders which have adapted to a vegetarian diet.

These birds look superficially like partridges in structure and bill shape. They have short legs and long wings. Their 2-3 eggs are laid in a shallow scrape on the ground.

Attagis contains the larger two of the four seedsnipe species.


Charadriiformes is a diverse order of small to medium-large birds. It includes about 350 species and has members in all parts of the world. Most Charadriiformes live near water and eat invertebrates or other small animals; however, some are pelagic (seabirds), some occupy deserts and a few are found in thick forest.


The curlews (), genus Numenius, are a group of eight species of birds, characterised by long, slender, downcurved bills and mottled brown plumage. The English name is imitative of the Eurasian curlew's call, but may have been influenced by the Old French corliu, "messenger", from courir , "to run". It was first recorded in 1377 in Langland's Piers Plowman "Fissch to lyue in þe flode..Þe corlue by kynde of þe eyre". In Europe "curlew" usually refers to one species, the Eurasian curlew Numenius arquata.

They are one of the most ancient lineages of scolopacid waders, together with the godwits which look similar but have straight bills.Curlews feed on mud or very soft ground, searching for worms and other invertebrates with their long bills. They will also take crabs and similar items.

Curlews enjoy a worldwide distribution. Most species show strong migratory habits and consequently one or more species can be encountered at different times of the year in Europe, Ireland, Britain, Iberia, Iceland, Africa, Southeast Asia, Siberia, North America, South America and Australasia.

The distribution of curlews has altered considerably in the past hundred years as a result of changing agricultural practices. Reclamation and drainage of marshy fields and moorland, and afforestation of the latter, have led to local decreases, while conversion of forest to grassland in some parts of Scandinavia has led to increases there.The stone-curlews are not true curlews (family Scolopacidae) but members of the family Burhinidae, which is in the same order Charadriiformes, but only distantly related within that.


Gallinago is a genus of birds in the wader family Scolopacidae, containing 17 species.


The godwits are a group of large, long-billed, long-legged and strongly migratory waders of the bird genus Limosa. Their long bills allow them to probe deeply in the sand for aquatic worms and molluscs. They frequent tidal shorelines, breeding in northern climates in summer and migrating south in winter. In their winter range, they flock together where food is plentiful. A female bar-tailed godwit holds the record for the longest non-stop flight for a land bird.They can be distinguished from the curlews by their straight or slightly upturned bills, and from the dowitchers by their longer legs. The winter plumages are fairly drab, but three species have reddish underparts when breeding. The females are appreciably larger than the males.

Godwits were once a popular British dish. Sir Thomas Browne writing in about 1682 noted that godwits "were accounted the daintiest dish in England".

Grey-breasted seedsnipe

The grey-breasted seedsnipe (Thinocorus orbignyianus) is a species of bird in the Thinocoridae family.

It is found in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Peru.

Its natural habitats are temperate grassland, subtropical or tropical high-altitude grassland, and swamps.

Hottentot buttonquail

The Hottentot buttonquail (Turnix hottentottus) is a bird in the family Turnicidae formerly considered conspecific with the black-rumped buttonquail (Turnix nanus).

Jacana (genus)

Jacana is the genus comprising the two jacanas of the Americas: the northern jacana, Jacana spinosa, and the wattled jacana, Jacana jacana.The two species are very similar to each other: about 22 cm (8.7 in) long, with long necks and fairly long yellow bills. Adults are black and chestnut-brown, with pale yellow-green flight feathers that contrast conspicuously when a bird flies. Their legs are long and grayish, and as in all jacanas, their toes are extremely long for walking on aquatic vegetation such as lily pads. They have frontal shields (like those of coots) and wattles; differences in these are the most noticeable differences between the species. Juveniles are brown above and white below, with a buff-white stripe above the eye and a dark stripe behind it. The dark colors are somewhat darker on the juvenile wattled jacana than on the northern.Together the species occur in marshes in the American tropics and subtropics. The northern jacana's range meets that of the wattled jacana in western Panama.As in most other jacanas, males build the nests, incubate, and brood the chicks. Both these species are polyandrous, at least in some circumstances. Females lay separate clutches (of four eggs) for up to four mates, each of which tends his clutch alone.The genus Jacana was introduced by the French zoologist Mathurin Jacques Brisson in 1760 with the wattled jacana (Jacana jacana) as the type species. For the etymology and pronunciation of Jacana, see the family article.

Least seedsnipe

The least seedsnipe (Thinocorus rumicivorus) is a xerophilic species of bird in the Thinocoridae family.

It breeds in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Peru. They are common across South America and have been recorded in Ecuador, the Falkland Islands, Uruguay, Brazil, and as far away as Antarctica. The range of the least seedsnipe is estimated to be about 1,300,000 km2.

Its natural habitats are temperate grassland, subtropical or tropical high-altitude grassland, and pastureland, but it can be found in habitats ranging from sandy beaches to the open steppe, and even some open deserts in northern Chile.


A phalarope is any of three living species of slender-necked shorebirds in the genus Phalaropus of the bird family Scolopacidae.

Phalaropes are close relatives of the shanks and tattlers, the Actitis and Terek sandpipers, and also of the turnstones and calidrids. They are especially notable for two things: their unusual nesting behavior, and their unique feeding technique.

Two species, the red phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius, called grey phalarope in Europe) and red-necked phalarope (P. lobatus) breed around the Arctic Circle and winter on tropical oceans. Wilson's phalarope (P. tricolor) breeds in western North America and migrates to South America. All are 6–10 in (15–25 cm) in length, with lobed toes and a straight, slender bill. Predominantly grey and white in winter, their plumage develops reddish markings in summer.

Pied stilt

The pied stilt (Himantopus leucocephalus), also known as the white-headed stilt, is a bird in the family Recurvirostridae. It is sometimes considered a subspecies of the black-winged stilt (H. himantopus). This shorebird has been recorded in Malaysia, Japan, the Philippines, Brunei, Christmas Island, Indonesia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Australia, and New Zealand.


Pluvialis is a genus of plovers, a group of wading birds comprising four species that breed in the temperate or Arctic Northern Hemisphere.

In breeding plumage, they all have largely black underparts, and golden or silvery upperparts. They have relatively short bills and feed mainly on insects, worms or other invertebrates, depending on habitat, which are obtained by a run-and-pause technique, rather than the steady probing of some other wader groups. They hunt by sight, rather than by feel as do longer-billed waders.

Rufous-bellied seedsnipe

The rufous-bellied seedsnipe (Attagis gayi) is a wader which is a resident breeding bird in the Andes of South America south from Ecuador.

It is a member of the seedsnipe family, a group of small gregarious waders which have adapted to a vegetarian diet of seeds and other plant material. The most common food is the buds and leaf tips of cushion plants. It is found in the high Andes at up to 4000 m, although it can occur as low as 1000 m in the south of its range. It is very hardy, and does not move downhill even in harsh conditions.

Rufous-bellied seedsnipe, when on the ground, looks superficially like a partridge in structure and bill shape. It has short legs and long pointed wings, and looks much more like a wader or sandgrouse in flight. It is the largest seedsnipe at 27–32 cm (10.5–12.5 in) in length. A very bulky bird, this species weighs 300 to 400 g (11 to 14 oz).The nominate race which breeds in Chile and Patagonia has scalloped pale rufous underparts, and reddish brown upperparts, with much barring. A.g. latreillii of Ecuador is deeper chestnut below and darker above. A.g. simonsi of Peru, Bolivia and northwest Argentina is intermediate in appearance.

The sexes are similar, and the juveniles are also very much like the adults, although even more heavily barred. The call is a harsh tchaaa.

The rufous-bellied seedsnipe’s 2-3 eggs are laid in a shallow scape on the ground, and the young are able to walk and feed as soon as they are hatched.

Rufous-bellied seedsnipes are sometimes hunted for food by local people, especially near mines.

The scientific name of this bird commemorates the French naturalist Claude Gay.

Sibley-Monroe checklist 7

The Sibley-Monroe checklist was a landmark document in the study of birds. It drew on extensive DNA-DNA hybridisation studies to reassess the relationships between modern birds.


Stilt is a common name for several species of birds in the family Recurvirostridae, which also includes those known as avocets. They are found in brackish or saline wetlands in warm or hot climates.

They have extremely long legs, hence the group name, and long thin bills. Stilts typically feed on aquatic insects and other small creatures and nest on the ground surface in loose colonies.

Most sources recognize 6 species in 2 genera, although the white-backed and Hawaiian stilts are occasionally considered subspecies of the black-necked stilt.

The genus Charadrius was introduced by the French zoologist Mathurin Jacques Brisson in 1760 with the black-winged stilt (Himantopus himantopus) as the type species. The generic name Himantopus comes from the Ancient Greek meaning "strap-leg".


Thinocorus is a genus of seedsnipe, a South American family of small gregarious waders which have adapted to a vegetarian diet.

These birds look superficially like partridges in structure and bill shape. They have short legs and long wings. Their 2 or 3 eggs are laid in a shallow scrape on the ground.

Thinocorus contains the smaller two of the four seedsnipe species.


Waders are birds commonly found along shorelines and mudflats that wade in order to forage for food (such as insects or crustaceans) in the mud or sand. They are called shorebirds in North America, where the term "wader" is used to refer to long-legged wading birds such as storks and herons. Waders are members of the order Charadriiformes, which includes gulls, auks and their allies.

There are about 210 species of wader, most of which live in wetland or coastal environments. Many species of Arctic and temperate regions are strongly migratory, but tropical birds are often resident, or move only in response to rainfall patterns. Some of the Arctic species, such as the little stint, are amongst the longest distance migrants, spending the non-breeding season in the southern hemisphere.

Many of the smaller species found in coastal habitats, particularly but not exclusively the calidrids, are often named as "sandpipers", but this term does not have a strict meaning, since the upland sandpiper is a grassland species.

The smallest member of this group is the least sandpiper, small adults of which can weigh as little as 15.5 grams and measure just over 13 cm (5.1 in). The largest species is believed to be the Far Eastern curlew, at about 63 cm (25 in) and 860 grams (1.90 pounds), although the beach thick-knee is the heaviest at about 1 kg (2.2 lb).

In the Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy, waders and many other groups are subsumed into a greatly enlarged Ciconiiformes order. However, the classification of the Charadriiformes is one of the weakest points of the Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy, as DNA–DNA hybridization has turned out to be incapable of properly resolving the interrelationships of the group. Formerly, the waders were united in a single suborder Charadrii, but this has turned out to be a "wastebasket taxon", uniting no less than four charadriiform lineages in a paraphyletic assemblage. However, it indicated that the plains wanderer actually belonged into one of them. Following recent studies (Ericson et al., 2003; Paton et al., 2003; Thomas et al., 2004a, b; van Tuinen et al., 2004; Paton & Baker, 2006), the waders may be more accurately subdivided as follows:

Suborder Scolopaci

Family Scolopacidae: snipe, sandpipers, phalaropes, and allies

Suborder Thinocori

Family Rostratulidae: painted snipe

Family Jacanidae: jacanas

Family Thinocoridae: seedsnipe

Family Pedionomidae: plains wanderer

Suborder Chionidi

Family Burhinidae: thick-knees

Family Chionididae: sheathbills

Family Pluvianellidae: Magellanic plover

Suborder Charadrii

Family Ibidorhynchidae: ibisbill

Family Recurvirostridae: avocets and stilts

Family Haematopodidae: oystercatchers

Family Charadriidae: plovers and lapwingsIn keeping more in line with the traditional grouping, the Thinocori could be included in the Scolopaci, and the Chionidi in the Charadrii. However, the increasing knowledge about the early evolutionary history of modern birds suggests that the assumption of Paton et al. (2003) and Thomas et al. (2004b) of 4 distinct "wader" lineages (= suborders) already being present around the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary is correct.

White-bellied seedsnipe

The white-bellied seedsnipe (Attagis malouinus) is a species of bird in the Thinocoridae family. It is found in southwestern Argentina and Tierra del Fuego. It is a vagrant to the Falkland Islands. Its natural habitats are temperate grassland and swamps.

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