Friday, March 11, 2016

MIgrating Woodcocks

Woodcock in the flower bed - Dave Millsap
Doodling in the mulch - Dave Millsap
The last 10 days we are are hearing about occasional sightings of woodcocks.  In addition GOAS reports, we got these pictures from Dave Millsap taken in the center of Springfield. 
"Carolyn spotted the woodcock when she went out to get the Sunday paper. It was working around in some mulch in a flower bed in our front yard. I stepped out on the front porch and took these pictures. He did not mind my presence until I stepped off the bottom step. At that point he was gone in a flash."
This is the time of year that woodcocks (or our preferred name, timberdoodle) are migrating northward to their summer breeding grounds which extend all the way to southern Canada.  We are at the southern edge but for now we are a way station where the males precede the females and practice their romantic overtures in our fields and forests.

For two years we participated in a study of their resting sites during migration as described in this 2014 blog.  The study is over but we went out this weekend just to enjoy their excitement and it occurred to us that others might enjoy the experience so we have attached the basics of hunting timberdoodles by ear in this paper, abstracted from the instructions we received from Cari Sebright from the University of Arkansas.

Basically you will need to go to Woodcocks on Allaboutbirds to hear their distinctive twitteringflight sounds and the buzzing peent call.  Then head out after this front passes to make random stops listening for them in the woods and fields.  You might even get lucky and spot their dizzy falling flight in the sunset sky.

Just received word that the woodcock migration which started a week early is already over - they have moved on.  I will re-post this next Spring.

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