The Australian Painted Snipe is an Endangered bird found in the wetlands and is endemic to Australia. It is predominately chestnut-bronze and white in colouring.
The Australian Painted Snipe is a snipe-like shorebird with a bulbous-tipped bill, broad, rounded wings, and longish legs that protrude beyond the tip of the tail when in flight.
The sexes differ. Males have a dark-brown crown with a buff median stripe; the rest of the head and neck are dark ashy-grey, with a cream-coloured, comma-shaped mark around the eye. The upperparts are ashy-grey with blackish barring and blotches, and a narrow, golden-buff line separating the mantle and scapulars. The upper breast is dark ashy-grey with pale streaks; a broad white stripe extends from the sides of the breast onto the shoulders. The rest of the underparts are white. The upperwing is glossy olive-green with golden-buff spots and a dark bar; the underwing is light grey with fine barring and a white band through the centre. Females are more brightly coloured than the males. Females differ by having a uniform dark-brown head and upper breast, a rufous hindneck, and darker upperparts with fine barring.
Their average size is 27cm and their average weight is 127 grams.
Most calls are made by the female. Calls include a soft mellow ‘koo-oo koo-oo’ that sounds like blowing across the mouth of a bottle; a penetrating ‘cook-cook-cook’ can be heard at dusk and dawn; and a ‘kek’, ‘kak’ or ‘kit’ sound is made when disturbed
Endemic to Australia, the Australian Painted Snipe has been recorded in all mainland states, where the records are widely and sparsely scattered. Most records have come from eastern Australia, and most of these records are from the Murray–Darling Basin.
The Australian Painted Snipe inhabits many different types of shallow, brackish or freshwater terrestrial wetlands, especially temporary ones which have muddy margins and small, low-lying islands. Suitable wetlands usually support a mosaic of low, patchy vegetation, as well as lignum and canegrass.
The Australian Painted Snipe often occurs in small parties, which are sometimes comprised by birds of a single sex. They usually spend much of the day loafing quietly beneath the cover of low shrubs or other vegetation; they become active around dusk and remain active throughout the night. When threatened, the Painted Snipe performs a threat display which involves extending both wings to the ground, raising the tail and sometimes emitting a loud hiss. This display makes the bird appear larger and displays the bright colours of its plumage. The movements of the Painted Snipe are poorly known and it may be a migratory species. Sightings of individuals are erratic, and it is thought the species is likely to be nomadic in response to suitable conditions, such as floods.
The Australian Painted Snipe usually remains among the cover of wetland vegetation while foraging. It feeds at night, probing the soft mud with its long bill as it walks, pecking at seeds and taking small invertebrates.
Little is known of the breeding of the Australian Painted Snipe. The Painted Snipe nests on the ground amongst tall vegetation such as grass tussocks and reeds. Nests, which consist of a scrape in the ground lined with grass and leaves, are often located on small islands. Three or four dull-coloured, spotted and blotched eggs are laid, and these are incubated (16 days) by the male, which also provides most care for the young. The female is polyandrous, meaning that she leaves the male to look after the young while she moves on to mate with as many other males as she can attract. Breeding season is from September to December (but can vary).
The Painted Snipe is affected by habitat destruction by cattle grazing; clearing of riparian vegetation for agriculture; drainage, salinisation and pollution of wetlands and waterbodies; and alteration of flooding regimes due to the regulation of inland waterways. Painted Snipe are also preyed upon by introduced feral animals, such as cats and foxes.