Here it is again. I added an arrow so you can hopefully see it this time.
There it is - the American Woodcock. Slayer of worms and master of camouflage.
Slightly smaller than a softball, the "Timberdoodle", as it is sometimes called, is out and about right now. No, you don't find them during the winter months. By late March, they arrive in the region (they winter in the deep South) for courtship and egg-laying.
Their call is quite possibly one of the most beautiful and musical of any bird. Forget everything you have ever heard or seen on the Discovery Channel. This bird has character and gusto. The coolest thing about it is this - anybody can do the call.
Here goes. Pinch you nose. (Pinch it, don't pick it. Pinch it.) Say "peent". There. You did it. Cool, huh? You can hear it here, too.
Once the grounds get wet and gooey in the late winter and early spring, their pencil-like bill can do its job. After sticking it straight into the ground, hyper-sensitive nerves give them the bearings they need to nail worms. If they are on the mark, "boom". Done. If they missed, they can figure a new bearing, re-tool, and bag it. This particular bird, before he settled in, was actively feeding. Cool stuff to watch. Of course it sucks if you're the worm!
For the most part, people don't find them at all. As you can see from my photos, many people would simply walk right past them. The browns, tans and black that make up their colors are absolutely perfect when they sit on the long, dead grasses of late winter/early spring. Plus, their "I'm a statue so you won't see me..." attitude can't be beat. While I had a big lens, this bird was not 15 feet away. Probably less, really.
So, how did I see it?
Some days back, my co-worker Natalie came into the building with a smile that wrapped around her head. "There is a Woodcock at the office!" Apparently, the bird was feeding on the edge of the long, brown grasses and the short, dead grasses (the stuff that gets chopped by mowers during the summer months). After giving me perfect directions, I found the bird later in the day. After work, I went home and got my rig and came back. It was feeding actively before hunkering down shortly after my arrival.After such a long winter, it was nice to see the bird that is so often not seen...