American Woodcock

The Red Tail hawk, catches our eye sitting on the backyard swing set. Looks like the hawk is on a mission. We soon find out. Scanning the ground below, a foresting American Woodcock. Actually two of them. Camouflaged against the dry leaves, the brown-mottled American Woodcock walks slowly along the ground, probing the soil with its long bill in search of earthworms.  They sometimes rock their bodies (as seen in this short video) backward and forward as they forage, shifting their weight heavily from foot to foot. The vibrations from this motion may prompt earthworms to move underground, making slight sounds that the woodcock may be able to hear or feel.  Hunting has not been shown to influence large-scale population trends, however, because they forage on the forest floor, woodcocks can accumulate pesticides in their bodies from aerial spraying against forest-insect pests. Their heavy diet of earthworms makes them vulnerable to poisoning by lead, cadmium, and other heavy metals.


Videos may be grainy, due to long telephoto lens used. Shaky video is better than no video.