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

Apr
27
Sat
7:30 pm Owl Prowl
Owl Prowl
Apr 27 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Come join the Macphail Woods Ecological Forestry Project in celebrating the wonderful world of owls at one of this year’s Owl Prowls. To meet the growing interest in these fascinating birds, there will be Owl
May
4
Sat
2:00 pm Landscaping with Native Plants
Landscaping with Native Plants
May 4 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Want to spend less time cutting grass and more time enjoying the beautiful plants around your home? This workshop introduces a variety of hardy native plants to attract wildlife and beautify your yard.
May
11
Sat
8:00 am Birds and Breakfast
Birds and Breakfast
May 11 @ 8:00 am – 10:00 am
The Macphail Homestead will be open at 7am to serve a free “early bird” breakfast. Join other birders beside the fireplace in the Great Room for at hot beverage and breakfast treats to start your
May
18
Sat
10:00 am Pruning Trees and Shrubs
Pruning Trees and Shrubs
May 18 @ 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Participants will practice pruning on a variety of plants in the nursery, arboretum and woodlands. Please bring along any of your favourite pruning tools. Workshop will include a slide show and demonstration of proper pruning
May
25
Sat
10:00 am Creating and Maintaining Hedgero...
Creating and Maintaining Hedgero...
May 25 @ 10:00 am – 11:30 am
This workshop will look at on creating diverse, beautiful and functional hedgerows and windbreaks using a variety of native plants. Participants will learn about which plants are best, spacing, planting and maintenance.

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