American Woodcock (Scolopax minor)

American Woodcock

[order] CHARADRIIFORMES | [family] Scolopacidae | [latin] Scolopax minor | [UK] American Woodcock | [FR] Becasse d’Amerique | [DE] Kanadaschnepfe | [ES] Chocha Americana | [NL] Amerikaanse Houtsnip


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Coenocorypha minor
Scolopax minor NA e, se

Physical charateristics

A rotund, almost neckless brown bird with a dead-leaf pattern and broadly barred crown. Near size of Bobwhite, with an extremely long bill, large pop eyes. Usually flushed from a thicket, producing a whistling sound with its short, rounded

Listen to the sound of American Woodcock

[audio: Woodcock.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 42 cm wingspan max.: 48 cm
size min.: 25 cm size max.: 31 cm
incubation min.: 20 days incubation max.: 22 days
fledging min.: 1 days fledging max.: 1 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 5  


North America : East, Southeast


Wet thickets, moist woods, brushy swamps. Favors a mix of forest and open fields, often spending day in the forest, night in the open. Mostly in deciduous or mixed woods with much young grow
th and moist soil, such as thickets along streams. At night may be in open pastures, abandoned farm fields, open swamp edges.


Males display at night in spring to attract females in meadow, brushy field. Male gives nasal beeping call on ground, then performs high, twisting flight display. In this “sky dance,” musical twittering sounds made by certain modified wing feathers, chirp
ing calls made vocally. Female visits area, mates with one of the males.
Nest: Site is on ground, usually in open woods or overgrown field. Nest (made by female) is a scrape lined with dead leaves, debris.
Eggs: 4, sometimes 1-3; rarely 5 or more. Eggs buff, blotched brown and gray. Incubation is by female only, 20-22 days.
Young: Downy young leave nest soon after hatching. Female tends young and feeds them. After a few days, young begin probing in soil, learning to search for food. Young can make short flights at age 2 weeks, fly fairly well at 3 weeks.

Feeding habits

Mostly earthworms and insects.
Earthworms are usually major prey. Insects also important, especially larvae that burrow in soil, such as those of many beetles, crane flies, others. Also eaten are millipedes, spiders, snails. Consumes some plant material, including seeds of grasses, se
dges, smartweeds.
Behavior: Feeds mostly by probing with bill in soft soil. Tip of b
ill is sensitive and flexible, allowing bird to detect and then grab creatures in the soil. Sometimes performs odd rocking motion while standing; possibly the vibration from this will disturb earthworms into moving.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
American Woodcock status Least Concern


Southeastern Canada to Gulf States. Winters in southeastern United States. Migration:
Migrates at night. Fall migration influenced by weather, with many driven south by major cold fronts. Spring migration begins very early, some males moving north during January in warm years.

Distribution map

American Woodcock distribution range map

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