Woodcock’s amazing mating show on display now

Woodcock’s amazing mating show on display now

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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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