A chunky, quail-sized bird, the American Woodcock is rarely seen as it burrows among dried leaves, which perfectly disguise him. His rufous belly, black head bands and the "dead leaf" pattern on his back help him blend into the woodlands background, where he makes his habitat. The long bill facilitates the extraction of earthworms; the tip of the upper mandible is flexible so that worms can be grasped while the 'cock' probes in the mud without opening his bill.
When flushed, the American Woodcock zigzags through the brush, his wings whistling a plaintive sound. His courtship ritual is singular, as he spirals high up above the thickets, then plummets to earth with a loud "bzeep"to his love as he descends.
The American Woodcock breeds in the lower Canadian states and Newfoundland south to Texas, the Gulf Coast and Central Florida.
Calls or song.
A loud, buzzy "bzeep" repeated every two seconds during mating.
Population and distribution.
This bird lives among woodlands and thickets throughout the Central and Eastern zones of the U.S. It winters in the southeastern states.
Woodcocks hollow out the ground under a bush, where the female lays four buff eggs with brown spots.