Nature conservation

Threatened species

Australian Painted Snipe - profile

Indicative distribution

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The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Rostratula australis
Conservation status in NSW: Endangered
Commonwealth status: Endangered
Gazetted date: 25 Jun 2004
Profile last updated: 01 Dec 2017


The Australian Painted Snipe is small freshwater wader, with a long bill that droops slightly at the tip. The female has a chestnut-black hood with a bold white eye-patch and a cream stripe along the middle of the crown. The back and wings are patterned bronzy-greenish-grey with a few cream streaks and the underparts are white. The male is slightly smaller and has greyer, less contrasting patterns, but also has large cream spots on the wings. In the past, the population of Painted Snipe in Australia has been treated as a separate race (australis) of a more widespread species (often called the Greater Painted Snipe Rostratula benghalensis). Recent genetic analysis (Baker et al. 2007) has shown that this has been isolated from other populations for approximately 19 million years and is different enough to be considered a separate species. Recent publications refer to this species as the Australian Painted Snipe (Rostratula australis).


The Australian Painted Snipe is restricted to Australia. Most records are from the south east, particularly the Murray Darling Basin, with scattered records across northern Australia and historical records from around the Perth region in Western Australia. In NSW many records are from the Murray-Darling Basin including the Paroo wetlands, Lake Cowal, Macquarie Marshes, Fivebough Swamp and more recently, swamps near Balldale and Wanganella. Other important locations with recent records include wetlands on the Hawkesbury River and the Clarence and lower Hunter Valleys.

Habitat and ecology

  • Prefers fringes of swamps, dams and nearby marshy areas where there is a cover of grasses, lignum, low scrub or open timber.
  • Nests on the ground amongst tall vegetation, such as grasses, tussocks or reeds.
  • The nest consists of a scrape in the ground, lined with grasses and leaves.
  • Breeding is often in response to local conditions; generally occurs from September to December. Incubation and care of young is all undertaken by the male only.
  • Forages nocturnally on mud-flats and in shallow water. Feeds on worms, molluscs, insects and some plant-matter.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

Information sources

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
Australian AlpsSnowy Mountains Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthLiverpool Plains Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthLiverpool Range Predicted None
Brigalow Belt SouthMoonie-Barwon Interfluve Predicted None
Brigalow Belt SouthNarrandool Predicted None
Brigalow Belt SouthNorthern Basalts Predicted None
Brigalow Belt SouthPilliga Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthPilliga Outwash Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthTalbragar Valley Known None
Broken Hill ComplexBarrier Range Known None
Broken Hill ComplexBarrier Range Outwash Predicted None
Broken Hill ComplexMootwingee Downs Known None
Channel CountryBulloo Predicted None
Channel CountryBulloo Dunefields Predicted None
Channel CountryCentral Depression Predicted None
Channel CountrySturt Stony Desert Predicted None
Cobar PeneplainBarnato Downs Predicted None
Cobar PeneplainBoorindal Plains Predicted None
Cobar PeneplainCanbelego Downs Predicted None
Cobar PeneplainLachlan Plains Known None
Cobar PeneplainNymagee Predicted None
Darling Riverine PlainsBogan-Macquarie Known None
Darling Riverine PlainsCastlereagh-Barwon Known None
Darling Riverine PlainsCulgoa-Bokhara Predicted None
Darling Riverine PlainsLouth Plains Predicted None
Darling Riverine PlainsMenindee Predicted None
Darling Riverine PlainsWarrambool-Moonie Predicted None
Darling Riverine PlainsWilcannia Plains Predicted None
Mulga LandsCuttaburra-Paroo Predicted None
Mulga LandsKerribree Basin Predicted None
Mulga LandsNebine Plains Predicted None
Mulga LandsParoo Overflow Predicted None
Mulga LandsParoo-Darling Sands Predicted None
Mulga LandsUrisino Sandplains Predicted None
Mulga LandsWarrego Plains Predicted None
Mulga LandsWarrego Sands Predicted None
Mulga LandsWest Warrego Predicted None
Mulga LandsWhite Cliffs Plateau Predicted None
Murray Darling DepressionDarling Depression Predicted None
Murray Darling DepressionSouth Olary Plain Known None
NandewarPeel Known None
New England TablelandsArmidale Plateau Predicted None
New England TablelandsBundarra Downs Predicted None
New England TablelandsDeepwater Downs Predicted None
New England TablelandsEastern Nandewars Predicted None
New England TablelandsGlenn Innes-Guyra Basalts Known None
New England TablelandsMoredun Volcanics Predicted None
New England TablelandsNightcap Predicted None
New England TablelandsWalcha Plateau Predicted None
New England TablelandsYarrowyck-Kentucky Downs Known None
NSW North CoastCoffs Coast and Escarpment Predicted None
NSW North CoastDalmorton Predicted None
NSW North CoastKaruah Manning Known None
NSW North CoastMacleay Hastings Known None
NSW North CoastYuraygir Predicted None
NSW South Western SlopesCapertee Valley Known None
NSW South Western SlopesInland Slopes Known None
NSW South Western SlopesLower Slopes Known None
Other StateACT Known None
Other StateQLD Known None
Other StateSA Known None
Other StateVIC Known None
RiverinaLachlan Known None
RiverinaMurray Fans Known None
RiverinaMurray Scroll Belt Known None
RiverinaMurrumbidgee Known None
RiverinaRobinvale Plains Known None
South East CornerEast Gippsland Lowlands Known None
South Eastern HighlandsBathurst Known None
South Eastern HighlandsCapertee Uplands Predicted None
South Eastern HighlandsCrookwell Predicted None
South Eastern HighlandsHill End Predicted None
South Eastern HighlandsMonaro Known None
South Eastern HighlandsMurrumbateman Predicted None
South Eastern HighlandsOberon Predicted None
South Eastern HighlandsOrange Predicted None
South Eastern QueenslandBurringbar-Conondale Ranges Known None
South Eastern QueenslandClarence Lowlands Known None
South Eastern QueenslandClarence Sandstones Predicted None
South Eastern QueenslandScenic Rim Predicted None
South Eastern QueenslandSunshine Coast-Gold Coast Lowlands Predicted None
Sydney BasinCumberland Known None
Sydney BasinHunter Known None
Sydney BasinIllawarra Known None
Sydney BasinKerrabee Predicted None
Sydney BasinMoss Vale Known None
Sydney BasinPittwater Known Within 5 km of Homebush Bay
Sydney BasinSydney Cataract Known None
Sydney BasinWyong Known None