Family

CHAPTER

phylum class subclass order monotypic order suborder family

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Seedsnipes vary from 6 to 12 inches in length (16 to 30 centimeters) and from 1.8 to 14 ounces in weight (50 to 400 grams). They have plump bodies, short, thick bills, and short legs. The wings are long, narrow, and pointed. A membrane, thin layer of skin, covers the nostrils of seedsnipes to protect them from dust storms. Seedsnipes are generally colored to blend into their environments, and may be brown or rust-colored, and barred. Two of the four species have gray heads and necks and black markings on the throat or breast. Seedsnipes have large numbers of feathers to help protect them from cold weather.

GEOGRAPHIC RANGE

Seedsnipes are found in the New World (Western Hemisphere) tropics, occupying the Andes as well as the Patagonian and Peruvian coasts in western and southern South America.

HABITAT

Seedsnipes are found in cold, windswept areas, including rocky slopes, short grasslands, and bogs. They also occupy dry riverbeds and the shores of partly dried-up lakes.

DIET

Seedsnipes eat plant material exclusively. This includes buds, leaf tips, some seeds and succulents, plants with fleshy, water-storing stems or leaves. Despite their name, seeds are not a particularly important part of the seedsnipes' diet. Seedsnipes generally feed by biting food off with their bills and swallowing the food whole.

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