Bird of the Week – the American Woodcock

As some of you may know, last week I became a mother to five egg-laying hens. Having chickens has inspired me to write about a chicken-like bird. The trouble  is, the bird of the week has to be migratory according to the going theme. So instead of telling you about yearlong residents like wild turkeys or ruffed grouse, which in my mind most resemble chickens,  I’ve decided to ask you to suspend your disbelief and see the migratory American Woodcock as a good chicken alternative.

American woodcocks are football-sized masters of disguise flaunting brown and black camo markings. They have no neck to speak of, but they make up for it with an impressive bendy long beak, which they use to probe the soil for earthworms. Technically, American woodcocks are considered to be shorebirds, but they actually prefer to hang out along wet forest edges.

Timberdoodles (the affectionate name for the American woodcock) are probably best known for their ear-catching mating displays. Some time at dusk, a male will start to make loud, repetitive “peenting” noises from the ground, after which he’ll fly high in the air circling as he goes. When he reaches about 100 m his wings begin to  twitter and the he falls quickly to the ground chirping. Once back on the ground he starts peenting again and the cycle repeats itself into the night.

I like American woodcocks because they do a great little dance, rocking their bodies back and forth as they walk, enticing earthworms to strike a pose at the surface!

Posted by: Ewa Bednarczuk

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