Monday, May 13, 2013


Last week, I was birding on the shores of Lake Erie near Toledo.  I went out on a showery evening at dusk to watch a male Woodcock's courtship display. Woodcock males wait until the light level drops to just 2 lumens.  They magically appear in the half-light at the same spot each evening and make this rattling "peent" call repeatedly. Then they ascent to a dizzying height and tumble down to the ground making this buzzing sound caused by air rushing thru their coarse wing feathers.  They repeat the "peent" call and again take flight.  They are often called Timber Doodles because of this odd display. 

We were rewarded with a good show. The male appeared a mere 50 feet away.  Before the first flight, a female flew in  just over our heads and landed 15 feet away. The male scurried over and began to display and cackle.  He held his wings out at the side and pranced about. (Too dark for photos, for sure!) After two matings, she left and he returned to his original spot where he began the "peent" and flight in earnest.  After all, one never knows how many other ladies are in the neighborhood.

So, the next day, I was directed to a female Woodcock setting on a barren, leaf covered bit of sand dune.   The area was marked off with yellow tape to prevent anyone from disturbing her, but it was still difficult to spot the bird.  Can you see her?

The bird was absolutely motionless among the leaves.  Only the slight reddish hues gave her away. 

But, there was another treat to see, as she had chicks.  For a few brief moments, one of them appeared from under her wing.

I was later told she had four chicks. 

The trip was for warblers, but there is no ignoring such a wonderful find as this.  I'll post some warbler photos in a few days.


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