American Woodcock or Timberdoodle, Scolopax minor
Scolopacidae or Sandpiper Family

Mother & baby

Small plump bird, with a very long, straigt bill which it uses to poke into the soil for worms and insects to eat. Black, gray, and reddish brown markings make it well camouflaged and it is most often seen suddenly escaping from people who blunder too near. They feed and nest on the ground in woodland thickets, and are most active at dawn and dusk, hiding by day and night. In autumn they migrate by night to the Gulf States.

A shy, retiring, rarely seen native of the eastern United States. It has bred at least once in Wildwood, as seen in the picture, although its normal breeding range is southern Canada and the Great Lakes, south to northern Virginia.

If you get more than a glimpse, which is unlikely, you can easily identify it by its shape, color and, especially, its long bill. They are the odd fellow in their family, being woodland birds while most of their cousins are shore birds.

They inspire a variety of colloquial names, being also called bog-suckers, brush snipes, night partridges, and hokumpokes.


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