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Adults are 23–28 cm (9.1–11.0 in) in length with a 39–45 cm (15–18 in) wingspan. They have short greenish-grey legs and a very long straight dark bill. The body is mottled brown on top and pale underneath. They have a dark stripe through the eye, with light stripes above and below it. The wings are pointed. This species was considered to be a subspecies of the common snipe (G. gallinago) until 2003 when it was given its own species status, though not all authorities recognized this immediately. Wilson's snipe differs from the latter species in having a narrower white trailing edge to the wings, and eight pairs of tail feathers instead of the typical seven of the common snipe. Its common name commemorates the American ornithologist Alexander Wilson.
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