Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Looking for American Woodcocks

A beautiful line of dogwood shrubs
A local birder reported seeing about ten American Woodcocks performing their early spring mating ritual at this location on Easter weekend. I spent time three or four years ago looking for Woodcocks in the spring but my search was unsuccessful. It is still very cold here but the night was clear and the strong winds we had earlier in the day had subsided.

Self-portrait in shadow at the pond
I arrived about an hour before sunset and walked around the nature centre. This conservation area is within the city limits and the centre is used by the local school boards during the week. There are trails, picnic tables and bird feeders but the building was closed this evening.

I was interested to see the large cutout shapes of local raptors in the windows of the nature centre. This is one tactic used to avoid window strikes by small birds.

I heard Red-winged Blackbirds a few times this spring but had yet to see one. They put on quite a show before sunset. The American Woodcocks were supposed to start their display around 7:48 PM according to the people who watched them a few days ago. It became colder after sunset and finally I heard one "peenting" bird around 8:00 PM. I waited about twenty minutes and saw no aerial displays. By this time I was alone, chilled to the bone and taking note of a quantity of coyote scat nearby. It was time to leave.

The nature centre is hosting an outing this weekend to observe American Woodcocks or "Timberdoodles" for the price of $10.00. I think I will pass unless they have a bonfire and marshmallows too. Here is a one minute video of the evening with a thirty second clip of the peenting Woodcock. I think I will stick with daytime birding in the future.


  1. The video looks and sounds cold. I am sure day time birding is more my speed.

  2. For ten dollars they need hot chocolate along with fire and marshmallows. Sometimes those little peents are all you get.

  3. You are a brave and dedicated soul.


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