Also Goes By:  Woody, Wood Snipe, Bog Snipe, Doodle, Timberdoodle

If the Woodcock looks out of place in the forest, it is because this bird is actually a type of shorebird. However, this species’ outstandingly camouflaged body makes it a part of the timber and thicket that it thrives in. Their mottled brown colored feathering allows for them to carefully scratch near the forest floor without attracting too much attention. Females are typically larger in size than the males, weighing 10 ounces to their male counterpart’s 6 or so ounces. With a round head, short neck and plump body, the Woodcock’s long beak seems disproportionate. Despite its awkward appearance, the beak enables this bird to forage for earthworms. Indeed, the Woodcock is superbly skilled at probing for worms. The cerebellum of this bird’s brain is said to have moved to a different position than it is located in other bird’s brains as a part of the Woodcock’s evolution into an effective prober. As a result, earthworms account for around 60% of this species diet while other insects like crickets and beetles make up another 30%. These birds prefer to eat just before dawn and in the early evening.

When searching for signs of the Woodcock, chalky white residue on the ground may be a good indication that the birds have recently been in the vicinity. When frightened, these birds will usually hold tight. If they do decide to run, it is wise to prepare for a chaotic and frantic flush that results in the bird flying upwards in a short spurt. The Woodcock, once flushed, will beat its wings so rapidly that the air passing through them will make a whistling sound. Take care to aim higher in anticipation of this quick flight. A 20 or 28 gauge shotgun is ideal.

Photo Courtesy of USFW.

Couple Birdhunters

Make Bird Hunting an Adventure

A lot of bird hunters have gotten in a rut and don’t even realize it. They hunt the same places for the same birds with the same dogs week after week, season over season. Though there’s nothing wrong with this, I think it slowly saps some of the charge out of the upland pursuit. Anything … Read more

Brian Koch
Rio and Grouse

Trusting the Dog in the North Woods

Rio is fresh off her first wild bird hunt in Nebraska. It seemed like a good opportunity to start over with an absolutely clean slate, discovering the North Woods together. The way I look at it the same thing that applies to hunters applies to the young Jornada Llewellin setter;  get exposure to as many … Read more

Brian Koch
Setter and Hunter

Highlights From the 2012 Bird Hunting Season

It seems like eons ago when we were climbing to 12,000 feet in the Ruby Mountains in pursuit of Snowcock. But it was just a short six months since we set off to start the 2012 bird hunting season. Now that wild bird hunting in the lower 48 has ended I sit here reflecting on … Read more

Brian Koch