Bird #195 — American Woodcock

scolopax (pointed) minor (lesser)

Sunday, March 15, 1981 — 1:45 pm

Barrington, Illinois — Baker’s Lake — Beese Park

My wife and I were walking along the path that runs along the slope above the lake.  There was a strip of trees and brush approximately 10 yards deep between the path and the shore.  We were startled by a loud whistling of wings.  The Woodcock burst out of the brush about 20 feet in front of us and flew just above the treetops, shortly disappearing from view.

For the next two or three years, I could see a Woodcock anytime I wanted to during the spring.  Close to the Beese Park parking lot, there was a little patch of short, brushy trees.  Every time I walked through this patch in late March or April, I would flush a Woodcock.  And no matter how slowly or carefully I moved, I never saw one before it flushed.  On two or three occasions, when I was there at dusk, I saw one (or, more properly, the silhouette of one) in courtship flight.  They would come out of the brush into a clearing, perform their courtship dances, and make their strange calls.

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