American Woodcocks and a Snowy Easter Sunday

Yes!  I love these birds.  They’re so delightfully weird.  They dance robotically as they walk and they have an amazing courtship ritual.  Our nerdy little birding group, which competes in the Birding Cup every year, is called the Timberdoodles, which is one of many affectionate nicknames for this wonderfully strange bird.  They’re also called bog suckers, because they live in bogs and like to eat invertebrates (especially earthworms, yum).

woodcock habitat
Nice woodcock habitat and an Easter snowstorm.

One of the most notable things about the woodcock is their courtship ritual.  They make a loud vocalization that sounds like a nasal “Peent!” on the ground and then they fly in a corkscrew pattern high into the sky until they disappear.  On the way down they seesaw back and forth.  The males have specialized feathers, and when the wind blows over them, they make a cheerful whirring, twittering noise.  I could easily be fooled into thinking it was a vocalization!

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My adorable bird nerd friends.

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They are too cute for words!

We were probably a hilarious sight to behold last night.  We were standing in the mucky, muddy field with our heads craned back, peering into the dark, cloudy sky after sunset, listening for the twittering noise that indicated the approach of the falling woodcock.  Then we’d try to predict where it would fall, running back and forth like a Looney Toons character trying to get out from under a falling anvil.

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Woodcock!

When it would land, we’d all try to sneak up on it a few steps at a time to get a closer look and it would retreat a few steps at a time, glancing over its shoulder like, “Stay away from me, you weirdos.”‘

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The cold shoulder.

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One thought on “American Woodcocks and a Snowy Easter Sunday

  1. Pingback: Migrating Salamanders 2015 | standingoutinmyfield

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