Woodcock’s amazing mating show on display now

American woodcock (Mass. Audubon, David Larson photo)

American woodcock (Mass. Audubon, David Larson photo)

American woodcock (Mass. Audubon, David Larson photo)

Spring is right around the corner and a local bird that starts its evening with a memorable mating dance is already hard at work.

The American Woodcock is a member of a shorebird family that spends most of its life in wet woodlands rather than on the shore.  The male uses open fields for his mating rituals, starting off with a short “peet” sound reminiscent of a night-time insect or spring peeper.  After repeating the peet sound several times the bird flies up into the air (up to 300 feet) then flies downward in a zig-zag motion with his wings whistling.  The male will perform this amazing courtship display up to 20 times a night at dusk and dawn.

There are several opportunities to witness the dance of the woodcock this month.

• Meet at the Allens Neck trailhead at Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary this Friday, March 8, at 5 p.m. for woodcock viewing led by a Mass Audubon naturalist.

• On Monday, March 11, the Paskamansett Bird Club hosts its annual Woodcock Walk (call trip leader for meeting place and time).

• Woodcock Wanderings hosted by the Trustees of Reservations at Copicut Woods is March 23 at 7 p.m.

•  On March 26, meet at Lloyd Center for the Environment at 5 p.m. for a trip to Demarest Lloyd State Park to view woodcock.

Visit each organization’s website for the cost of the program, registration details, and rain date information.


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