American Woodcock


American Woodcock (Scolopax minor)

Background:

Long known primarily as a bird for sports hunters, the American woodcock is deservedly appreciated by nature lovers everywhere for its beauty and interesting habits.

 

Identification:

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The migratory woodcock has a very long, straight bill, a large head and what appear to be bulging eyes. It is a strangely configured bird, with a short neck and chunky body. The colouring is designed for camouflage – a dark back and buffy breast. The time to see a woodcock is at dusk in early spring, when the male performs a unique mating display. This involves rising in the air to a height of 60-90 m (200-300′) while making a loud twittering sound with his wings. Then he quickly drops to the ground in a zig-zag fashion and resumes his buzzy “PEENT” call. Several males may display at the same time. The female is attracted to the area and mates with a male. Males continue to display and may mate with other females. The female then raises her brood on her own.

Habitat:

Woodcock are found in damp, brushy thickets of alder, willow or maple near stream banks, bogs or swamps. They will seek clearings or nearby fields to perform their displays, but need woodland for nocturnal roosting.

Feeding:

Earthworms can make up to 50% of a woodcock’s diet. One reason woodcocks are attracted to alder areas is that these shrubs add large amounts of nitrogen and organic matter to the soil and create excellent conditions for earthworms. Stream-banks are especially important foraging areas, perfect for a woodcock to dig into damp soil with its long beak. Woodcocks also root out the larvae of beetles, flies and other insects, and occasionally eat leaves, seeds and fruit.

Conservation:

There has been a continent-wide decline in past years due to a loss in early successional forest habitat. This is a reminder that there is great value to wildlife from our native shrubs as well as from healthy streams.

Upcoming Events

Jul
27
Sat
10:00 am Tracking the Mammals of PEI
Tracking the Mammals of PEI
Jul 27 @ 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Come on out and learn about the native and introduced mammals found on PEI, as well as a brief look at some of the mammals we’ve lost. After a brief slideshow, we’ll head off to
Aug
17
Sat
1:00 pm Volunteer Afternoon
Volunteer Afternoon
Aug 17 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Come out and help with our work on our Native Plant Arboretum. We’ll have lots of tools and compost and mulch, and a variety of native shrubs, wildflowers and ferns to plant. This is already
Aug
25
Sun
2:00 pm Fourth Annual Festival of Forests
Fourth Annual Festival of Forests
Aug 25 @ 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Our Fourth Annual Festival of Forests will be a family-friendly event, with children’s activities, guided walks, food and micro-workshops. This will be a great opportunity to explore the wonders of the Acadian Forest.
Sep
21
Sat
7:00 pm September Stargazing
September Stargazing
Sep 21 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Learn about the night sky and get to know some constellations. This outing will teach some basics of astronomy and then head out into the dark for naked-eye stargazing
Oct
13
Sun
2:00 pm Autumn in the Forest
Autumn in the Forest
Oct 13 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
A walk along the trails of Macphail Woods, looking at both plants and animals. This is a great outing for people of all ages.

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