AMERICAN WOODCOCK, Scolopax minor

March 2012

Photo by George McLean Photog ©
The American Woodcock is most noticeable during its remarkable mating display, beginning in March as snow clears from overgrown fields. Check the meadows in Nahanton Park. At dusk, the male appears on the ground in an open area and starts his performance, emitting a series of short, buzzing sounds at intervals of 10 to 15 seconds. He rotates slowly between buzzes, making it challenging to locate the source of the sound. After a few minutes, he springs up in flight, spiraling overhead to a height of 75 to 100 feet or more. He follows with an outpouring of chirping sounds before he plunges back to earth, and is most easily spotted during this return flight. These alternating episodes of buzzing and flying may last a half hour or longer. At some point you may catch a glimpse of an interested female flying in from the sidelines in response to the performance.

More information

All About Birds

Internet Bird Collection

Nature of New England

Wikipedia