web analytics

The unique American Woodcock

Posted on Apr 10, 2014

American Woodcocks (Scolopax minor) are so very unique. They are shorebirds that live in the forest, foraging in the leaf litter, or old fields. They take flight in astoundingly graceful courtship displays each year around this date on the calendar when the evenings begin to warm up. As you can see in both this photo and the subsequent videos they have tremendously evolved features such as that enormous eye that seems like it can spot you at 360 degrees at all times and a body pattern that makes them almost invisible to our eyes, even up close.

American Woodcock (Scolopax minor)

You may have already seen this video we posted of the American Woodcock “Walk” that Twan shot in a past spring season with a young bird being trained in how to move!

Here’s a video I took of the American Woodcock Dance with the bird using some great shakes to, we presume, literally shake around earthworms. This movement is believed to help bring these tasty treats to the surface or at least make them more visible for that long bill to snag.

You can see how the bird’s eye is locked on to me even though it is facing the opposite direction essentially. This is the peak season to find them in the skies or on the ground, perhaps even in your yard. Don’t be too startled or upset if you happen to accidentally flush one of them along the edge of a tree line or along a wet and muddy stream among the leaves – it happens to the best of us!

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator

Photo © Scott Kruitbosch; videos © Twan Leenders and Scott Kruitbosch