Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola)


[order] CHARADRIIFORMES | [family] Scolopacidae | [latin] Scolopax rusticola | [UK] Woodcock | [FR] Becasse des bois | [DE] Waldschnepfe | [ES] Agachadiza Perdiz | [NL] Houtsnip


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range

Physical charateristics

Thick transverse bars on crown, typical for all woodcock species. Mainly rufous brown and reddish above providing good camouflage.
Bill long and straight, but relatively shorter than congeners. Broad wings, in flight recalling owl. Plumage somewhat variable.
Differs from very similar, possibly conspecific, S. mira in having area of whitish feathering around eye, rather than bare skin. Rounder head, dark subterminal band on tail, narrower wings and shorter tarsi.
Sexes alike. No seasonal variation. Juvenile very similar to adult, but forehend more spotted.

Listen to the sound of Woodcock


Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 55 cm wingspan max.: 65 cm
size min.: 33 cm size max.: 38 cm
incubation min.: 21 days incubation max.: 24 days
fledging min.: 15 days fledging max.: 24 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 5  


Eurasia : widespread


During breeding season in moist forests, where favours mosaic habitats, and ectensive woodland covered by undergrowth of scrub, brambles, holly, gorse and bracken. Avoids warm and dry areas. often feeds along streams or springs, or in damp and swampy patches. Often gathers for roosting and feeding in earthworm-rich permanent grasslands at night.


Breeding from March to April, polygynous mating system. Male performs self-advertising display flight around dusk and dawn. Nest is a shallow depression in ground concealed by shrubs. Clutch 4 eggs, incubation 22 days, by female only. Chick pale pinkish buff with large, ferruginous brown and chestnut brown blotches and bands above.

Feeding habits

Mainly animals, with some plant matter. Animals include earthworms, insects particularly beetles, but also earwings, spiders, crustaceans, slugs, leeches and ribbonworms. Plant material comprises seeds, fruits, oats maixw grain and roots and blades of various grasses.
Feeds by probing in puddles or damp ground, or by pecking at ground surface, or under leaf litter and twigs, may use foot-trembling. Mostly feeds at night, especially outside breeding season, when earthworms taken on pasture land may predominate.


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). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not 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.
Woodcock status Least Concern


Mainly migratory, though many are resident in western maritime countries (Ireland, Britain, probably France) which also receive large influxes of winter visitors. Winter range of west Palearctic birds extends south to Mediterranean region and North Africa.
Autumn migration begins first half October in Finland, mid- to late October in Scandinavia; departures closely related to onset of frosts. Majority in winter quarters by end of November, though later movements to west or south can occur in response to cold weather. Return movements begin first half March, with breeding grounds reoccupied during April in Scandinavia, though passage lasts to mid-May in Finland; return well correlated with increasing spring temperatures.

Distribution map

Woodcock distribution range map

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *