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Old 13th January 2013, 09:04 PM   #1
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Snipes are real!!

In the latest podcast (#344) about the Mongolian Death Worms, "snipes" were included in a fictitious list of creatures. Snipes, or Wilson's Snipe (Gallinago delicata) are common North American shorebirds with long dark bills and striped heads, found in wet meadows and marsh edges across the continent.
When I became a birder ten years ago, I too was surprised to discover that snipe are real birds!!
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Old 13th January 2013, 10:10 PM   #2
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I remember reading about the fabled "snipe hunt" when I was in school, a few months after we bought the "Field Guide to North American Birds". I was loudly mocked in class for claiming that a snipe was a real bird.
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Old 14th January 2013, 12:12 AM   #3
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Had to look it up.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snipe

Yup. They're real alright.
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Old 14th January 2013, 12:15 AM   #4
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And here is the episode in question:

http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4344

Quote:
Think of how absurdly the taxonomy would have to be expanded if every local tradition was sufficient, on that merit alone, to warrant the scientific acceptance of a new species. Dragons, snipes, and Yowies would have to be in our textbooks.
Is there a fictional kind of snipe too?
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Old 14th January 2013, 12:20 AM   #5
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Here is the Wikipedia entry for "snipe hunt". I vaguely recall something like this from my youth:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snipe_hunt

Quote:
A snipe hunt, a made up hunt (or wild-goose chase) that is also known as a fool's errand, is a type of practical joke that involves experienced people making fun of credulous newcomers by giving them an impossible or imaginary task. The origin of the term is a practical joke where inexperienced campers are told about a bird or animal called the snipe as well as a usually preposterous method of catching it, such as running around the woods carrying a bag or making strange noises such as banging rocks together. Real snipe (a family of shorebirds) are difficult to catch for experienced hunters, so much so that the word "sniper" is derived from it to refer to anyone skilled enough to shoot one.[1]
The snipe hunt may be assigned to a target as either part of a process of hazing, in which the object is to initiate the snipe hunter into the group, or as part of a process of ostracism intended to encourage (or force) a person, perceived to be an unwanted interloper, to withdraw from the group's presence.
I can see how someone might reach the conclusion that snipes are imaginary (like a jackalope) after going through this hazing.
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Old 14th January 2013, 12:43 AM   #6
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Just because there aren't many Snipe in the USA!!

Snipe are a family of about 25 Wading Birds.

In the UK Snipe are hunted on Farmland.

Where do you think the term 'Sniper' came from?
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Old 14th January 2013, 03:05 AM   #7
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I knew that snipe were wading birds but never heard the term 'snipe hunt' used to describe a fool's errand. I only recently discovered that some people thought snipes were imaginary.
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Old 14th January 2013, 09:40 AM   #8
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We did snipe hunts in Boy Scouts as initiation. I had thought they were imaginary until a few years ago when the same subject came up on this forum.

DAMN YOU, JREF! I had hoped all my learnin' was done!
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Old 14th January 2013, 03:20 PM   #9
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My dad once sent my little brother on a skeet hunt. My brother had gotten himself a box of skeet loads, which had a picture of a bird on it; naturally, he assumed that the pictured bird was a skeet. When my dad heard about my little brother's planned skeet hunt, he undertook to set him straight on the finer points.

"Now, you go down to the river bottom at first light; that's where the skeet nest. Get yourself set up real good in the tall grass and do the skeet call, 'Pull! Pull! Pull!' They'll come over your head like they were shot out of a cannon or something."

Sure enough, first light the next morning found my intrepid brother in the tall grass...
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Old 15th January 2013, 02:21 PM   #10
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You guys are weird. These are Snipes:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snipes_%28video_game%29
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Old 15th January 2013, 02:33 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by scrapbird View Post
Snipes are real
The plural of snipe is snipe, not snipes. For instance: "There are many snipe at he waterline".

Mike
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Old 15th January 2013, 02:53 PM   #12
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I did an ornithology project on snipe nests. They have nice looking medium-sized eggs but precocial young, so one day I got there and they were all gone. I also had issues convincing others that they were real...
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Old 18th January 2013, 08:11 PM   #13
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A snipe is a Navy grease monkey.
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Old 18th January 2013, 09:03 PM   #14
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Currier & Ives lithograph of a man snipe hunting:

http://img0097.popscreencdn.com/1314...ng-hunter-.jpg
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Old 19th January 2013, 01:12 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Jack by the hedge View Post
I knew that snipe were wading birds but never heard the term 'snipe hunt' used to describe a fool's errand. I only recently discovered that some people thought snipes were imaginary.
I first encountered the 'snipe hunt' in an episode of Cheers, and I was fairly baffled that they thought snipe were imaginary.
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Old 19th January 2013, 02:39 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
....

Where do you think the term 'Sniper' came from?
Interesting, of all the birds one hunts from a hide, it's surprising this is the one whose name stuck.
Quote:
"shoot from a hidden place," 1773 (among British soldiers in India), in reference to hunting snipe as game, from snipe (n.). Related: Sniped; sniping.
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Old 22nd January 2013, 10:50 AM   #17
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As a youngster in the boy scouts, I once participated in a “snipe hunt” during a camping trip.

One of the counselors took 5-6 of us into the woods as he described how to scare a snipe into the open. It involved, as others have said above, making loud noises until the snipe was flushed from the bushes and into our waiting, open trash bags. Finally, we came to a spot when the counselor announced that he had spotted one darting under a distant bush. He instructed us to surround the large bush as he went in the flush out the snipe. We circled the bush and hollered out little hearts out. We heard some “bird-like” noises coming the bush, some yelling, and then the counselor emerged. “Did you see it? Where did it go?” Of course, somehow none of us saw the “lightning fast bird”. But, to show that it was real, the counselor displayed his bloody finger. “The bird bit me then took off!” We were amazed. Many years later, I learned that he had, of course, bit his own finger (and drew blood!) just to keep the illusion alive.

I’m still amazed, but for a different reason.
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Old 22nd January 2013, 10:59 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Clayton Moore View Post
A snipe is a Navy grease monkey.
I beg your pardon. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machinist%27s_Mate
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Old 22nd January 2013, 11:06 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
The plural of snipe is snipe, not snipes. For instance: "There are many snipe at he waterline".
I thought so, but wasn't sure. In fact in my post above I see I used both, but that was while reading the Wikipedia page which uses 'snipes' throughout.
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Old 22nd January 2013, 11:27 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Gawdzilla View Post
It's ok, I doubt anyone accepted the incorrect definition, given the source.
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Old 24th January 2013, 02:15 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by malaka View Post
As a youngster in the boy scouts, I once participated in a “snipe hunt” during a camping trip.

One of the counselors took 5-6 of us into the woods as he described how to scare a snipe into the open. It involved, as others have said above, making loud noises until the snipe was flushed from the bushes and into our waiting, open trash bags. Finally, we came to a spot when the counselor announced that he had spotted one darting under a distant bush. He instructed us to surround the large bush as he went in the flush out the snipe. We circled the bush and hollered out little hearts out. We heard some “bird-like” noises coming the bush, some yelling, and then the counselor emerged. “Did you see it? Where did it go?” Of course, somehow none of us saw the “lightning fast bird”. But, to show that it was real, the counselor displayed his bloody finger. “The bird bit me then took off!” We were amazed. Many years later, I learned that he had, of course, bit his own finger (and drew blood!) just to keep the illusion alive.

I’m still amazed, but for a different reason.
My experience was similar but added the "safety precaution" of blindfolds as the older scouts went to flush out the snipe. They're nasty creatures with sharp claws who go for the eyes first, you see.
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