Scientific name: Scolopax rusticola

Did you know: The woodcock’s pin feathers were once used as fine brush tips by artists for detailed paintings and to delicately remove dust particles from eyes.

What Do Woodcocks Look Like? (how to identify them)

Woodcocks are distinguished by their stout, wading bird structure, short legs, and notably long, straight bill. Mainly active at night, they spend their days concealed within dense vegetation. 

These birds, predominant in the UK, are recognised for their mottled brown, black, and grey plumage which serves as an excellent camouflage in woodland environments. Their average size ranges from 33-35 cm in length, with a wingspan of 55-65 cm and a weight between 240-420g.

Differences Between Male And Female Woodcocks

Male and female woodcocks exhibit subtle differences in appearance. Males, known for their display flight called ‘roding’ during the breeding season, are slightly more robust and have a more pronounced barring pattern across the crown than females. 

The females, although similar in colouration, tend to be less vivid and slightly smaller in size.

What Do Woodcocks Eat?

Woodcocks have a diet primarily consisting of beetles, earthworms, caterpillars, fly larvae, spiders, and small snails. They forage mostly at night or during twilight hours, probing the soft ground with their long bills to extract these invertebrates.

Where Do Woodcocks Live? (inc. migration info)

Woodcocks are primarily found in woodlands, including upland, urban, and suburban areas, as well as farmlands. While many woodcocks are UK residents, there is a significant influx of these birds from Finland and Russia during the autumn to spend the winter. 

Their habitat choice varies from deciduous to mixed woodland and heathland areas.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Woodcocks)

The woodcock’s vocalisation is most notable during its ‘roding’ display. This consists of a series of grunts and squeaks, performed at dusk and just before dawn, as males fly over their territory to attract females. Their calls are an integral part of their mating ritual and territorial displays.

Fun Woodcock Facts (kid friendly)

  • Woodcocks can camouflage so well, they often seem invisible in their woodland habitats.
  • They have 360° vision, thanks to their uniquely positioned eyes.
  • A group of woodcocks is called a “fall.”
  • The average lifespan of a woodcock is about 4 years.
  • Woodcocks perform a special flight called ‘roding’ during mating season.
  • Their long bill can sense worms and insects underground.
  • Woodcocks are native to the UK and are part of the sandpiper family.
  • Despite being wading birds, they prefer living in woodlands over water areas.
  • In winter, the UK woodcock population increases fivefold due to migration.
  • Young woodcocks are independent almost immediately after hatching, a trait known as precociality.

Facts About The Woodcock

Diet: Worms, beetles, spiders, caterpillars, fly larvae and small snails.
Bird Family: Sandpipers, snipes and phalaropes
Length: 33-35cm
Wingspan: 55-65cm
Weight: 240-420g
Scientific Name: Scolopax rusticola

The Woodcock Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

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