Plate 24: American Woodcock

Scolopax minor

Nests & Eggs: American Woodcock

Camouflaged earthworm seekers that live in forest and scrub.

In spring the Woodcock must be sought in some bushy swale, along the borders of a marsh, or near a small stream where the low banks are constantly moist and where brush and old logs give this retiring species a retreat. Here the nocturnal birds bore in the mud with their long bills, searching for food which they may grasp with the mobile tips of their mandibles. When disturbed they fly up rapidly, their wings whistling musically as they make off, somewhat erratically, through the undergrowth.

The spring courtship flight of the Woodcock is remarkable. On warm evenings the males bleat in their favorite haunts, then, as darkness descends, mount on whistling wings higher and higher, until they are far above the earth. They then hurl themselves back and forth as they start pitching toward the earth, the while producing a twittering sound with their throats as they drop at considerable speed, to alight not far from the point at which they started. Courting Woodcocks will sometimes alight within a few feet of a quiet observer.

Because the incubating bird is quiet and her back so perfectly resembles the leaves and twigs near her, she is very difficult to see. She so implicitly believes that she cannot be seen that she is not often flushed from her nest; sometimes she will permit her back to be stroked or her whole body to be lifted from her eggs.

An Introduction to the Birds of Pennsylvania
  • Print out the notebooking pages provided below.
  • Read the story of Longbill and Teeter in The Burgess Bird Book out loud.
  • Have a younger student orally narrate what was read. He can then copy a few lines of his narration onto the notebooking pages.
  • Older students can read the text, Plate XXIV: American Woodcock, and provide a written narration.
  • Sketch the bird. This encourages attention to detail, which will aid in identifying the bird later on. Another option is to use the printables provided below.
  • Sketch the nest of the bird, along with the eggs. Note where the nest is usually found.
  • Older students can include the taxonomy.
  • Learn more about the American Woodcock at Cornell.
  • On one notebooking page note the facts:
    • Description.
    • Habitat.
    • Range.
    • Food.
    • Nest.
    • Eggs.
    • Call.
  • The Woodcock is covered in The Burgess Bird Book: CHAPTER IX. Longbill and Teeter.
Additional Resources

30 Narration Ideas
At some point you might appreciate some variety.

The Bird Study sections of our free nature study series: Our Wonderful World:

Free Nature Studies: Our Wonderful World
Printables & Notebooking Pages

Woodcock Notebooking Pages
Free simple notebooking set.

American Woodcock
Bird picture for notebook.

Longbill the Woodcock
Corresponding print from The Burgess Bird Book.

Woodcock Range Map
For notebook from Cornell.

Bird Facts Notebooking Page
One option in a more graphic organizer style that is especially nice for noting the facts and range.

Enjoy the entire series:

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