Woodcock

Irish Name: Creabhar
Scientific name: Scolopax rusticola
Bird Family: Waders
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Conservation status

Status

Resident & winter visitor from Scandinavia and Russia.

Identification

With its long straight bill and plump body, it resembles a large Snipe. It is rarely seen on the ground, due to its secretive nature and cryptic plumage (which mimics dead leaves) and spends most of its day hidden amongst vegetation on the woodland floor. The best way to see a Woodcock is to wait at a good vantage point on a forest track or firebreak at dusk during spring or early summer. Listen for the call, then watch for the bird to appear, performing a strange fluttering display flight over the tree tops. This activity is known as roding. In flight, Woodcock have a heavy-chested appearance and rather rounded wings.

Voice

In breeding season, 3-4 grunted notes followed by a high-pitched, short, explosive 'pissp' sound made by the roding male at dusk and dawn, as they fly above the trees.

Diet

Feed predominantly on earthworms, at night.

Breeding

Nests on the ground in forests and woodland, usually well camouflaged amongst dead leaves and low vegetation. Young leave the nest soon after hatching.

Wintering

Wider distribution in winter, occurring in woodland, also scrub and some open areas (bracken and heather-covered hills).

Similar Species

Snipe

Irish Name:
Naoscach
Scientific name:
Gallinago gallinago
Bird Family:
Waders

Jack Snipe

Irish Name:
Naoscach bhídeach
Scientific name:
Lymnocryptes minimus
Bird Family:
Waders