This well camouflaged bird is usually shy and conceals itself close to ground vegetation and flushes only when approached closely. They fly off in a series of aerial zig-zags to confuse predators. Snipe hunters, therefore, needed to be very skilled to hunt these birds and they came to be called snipers, a term later adopted by the military. These birds forage in soft mud, probing or picking up food by sight. They mainly eat insects and earthworms, also plant material.
The male performs "winnowing" display during courtship, flying high in circles and then taking shallow dives to produce a distinctive sound, which has given the bird its Finnish name taivaanvuohi, "sky goat", because the sound is similar to the baaing of a goat. Common Snipe nest in a well-hidden location on the ground.