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American Woodcock

Scolopax minor ORDER: CHARADRIIFORMES FAMILY: SCOLOPACIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Superbly camouflaged against the leaf litter, the brown-mottled American Woodcock walks slowly along the forest floor, probing the soil with its long bill in search of earthworms. Unlike its coastal relatives, this plump little shorebird lives in young forests and shrubby old fields across eastern North America. Its cryptic plumage and low-profile behavior make it hard to find except in the springtime at dawn or dusk, when the males show off for females by giving loud, nasal peent calls and performing dazzling aerial displays.

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Calls

Displaying males give a repeated, buzzy, nasal peent while on the ground between flights. In the air, a displaying male chirps melodically for as long as 15 seconds as he zigzags downward from the apex of his display flight.

Other Sounds

As the male spirals upward into the sky during his display flight, his wings make a twittering sound produced by air passing through three narrow outer primaries. This sound may also occur during other activities.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos