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American Woodcock Scolopax minor


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American Woodcock
credit: guizmo_68/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Alternate name: Timberdoodle

Family: Scolopacidae, Sandpipers view all from this family

Description ADULT Has brown upperparts overall, but feathers on back and wings are adorned with narrow black lines; note the pale gray-buff lines on edge of mantle and scapulars. Nape and rear of crown are marked with dark bars, and face and neck are otherwise rather pale gray. Underparts are orange-buff and unmarked and this color extends to underwing coverts, visible in flight. JUVENILE Similar to adult.

Dimensions Length: 11" (28 cm)

Habitat Widespread and locally common breeding species in damp woodland and brushy forest across much of eastern North America. Northern birds are mostly migratory, heading south in fall, and winter in southern U.S. states, from Texas to Florida.

Observation Tips Easiest to find by visiting suitable habitats at dusk (when birds become active), then looking and listening for displaying males. Otherwise, usually seen by chance, when flushed. Widely hunted in winter.

Range Mid-Atlantic, Texas, Western Canada, Southeast, Florida, Plains, Eastern Canada, Great Lakes, New England

Voice Call is a buzzing, squeaky beent.

Discussion Specialty of eastern North America, this plump-bodied bird has extraordinarily intricate plumage markings that afford it superb camouflage among fallen leaves on the woodland floor. Note the short legs and long, pinkish bill (relatively shorter than that of Wilson's Snipe). Bill is used to probe soft ground for earthworms and other invertebrates. Mostly nocturnal in its feeding habits and typically solitary at all times. Eyes are relatively large and set high on head, giving near all-round vision. At breeding grounds, male performs a distinctive zigzag diving display, accompanied by twittering sounds. Sexes are similar.