Thinocoridae – Seedsnipe

Least Seedsnipe Thinocorus rumicivorus ©James Lowen Website

Thinocoridae or seedsnipes are a small family 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. Their 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. 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 their diet.

They resemble grouse, quail and sandgrouse, only with long wings. 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. One species, the Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe ranges as far up as to the snowline (5500 m).

According to the IOC there are just 4 species in this family, which are:

Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe Attagis gayi
White-bellied Seedsnipe Attagis malouinus

Grey-breasted Seedsnipe Thinocorus orbignyianus
Least Seedsnipe Thinocorus rumicivorus

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: Least Seedsnipe Thinocorus rumicivorus

    ...has three subspecies:
    T. r. cuneicauda, (Peale, 1848): southwest Ecuador & coastal Peru
    T. r. bolivianus, (Lowe, 1921): southern Peru, western Bolivia, northern Chile & northwestern Argentina
    T. r. rumicivorus, (Eschscholtz, 1829): Patagonia to Tierra del Fuego
  • Number of bird species: 4Grey-breasted Seedsnipe Thinocorus orbignyianus

    ...has two subspecies of the grey-breasted seedsnipe:
    T. o. ingae, (Tschudi, 1843): northern Peru to northern Chile & northwestern Argentina
    T. o. orbigyianus, (Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire & Lesson, 1831): north-central Chile & west-central Argentina to Tierra del Fuego
  • Number of bird species: Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe Attagis gayi

    ...has three sub-species
    A. g. latreillii Lesson, 1831 - N Ecuador.
    A. g. simonsi Chubb, 1918 - C Peru (Lima) through N Chile and W Bolivia to NW Argentina (Jujuy).
    A. g. gayi I. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire & Lesson, 1831 - Andes of Chile and Argentina, from Antofagasta and Salta S to Tierra del Fuego.
  • Number of bird species: White-bellied Seedsnipe Attagis malouinus

    ... is monotypic
Other Links
  • Least Seedsnipe Thinocorus rumicivorus

    Article
    Nuptial Vocalizations of Male Least Seedsnipe: Structure and Evolutionary Significance. The Condor - Vol. 98, No. 2 (May, 1996), pp. 418-422
Photographers & Artists
  • Grey-breasted Seedsnipe Thinocorus orbignyianus

    Image
    Superb images from Glenn Bartley Nature Photography...
  • Grey-breasted Seedsnipe Thinocorus orbignyianus

    Video
    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...
  • Least Seedsnipe Thinocorus rumicivorus

    Webpage
    IBC species account with taxonomy...
  • Least Seedsnipe Thinocorus rumicivorus

    Video
    IBC video collection...
  • Least Seedsnipe Thinocorus rumicivorus

    Webpage
    Species account and image from Birding Patagonia...
  • Least Seedsnipe Thinocorus rumicivorus

    Image
    Brilliant images from Glenn Bartley Nature Photography...
  • Least Seedsnipe Thinocorus rumicivorus

    Webpage
    Species account and images...
  • Least Seedsnipe Thinocorus rumicivorus

    Video
    Puco-Puco Menor, Least Seedsnipe (Thinocorus rumicivorus) en Arequipa
  • Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe Attagis gayi

    Image
    Image etc...
  • Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe Attagis gayi

    Video
    Feeding Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe, Papallacta Pass, Ecuador
  • White-bellied Seedsnipe Attagis malouinus

    Video
    White-bellied Seedsnipe on a windy day in Patagonian Steppe. May 2010...

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