|American Woodcock Photo Credit D. Fletcher @ Flickr|
This evening we went up to the Martha Lafite Thompson Nature Sanctuary near Liberty, Mo. Our friends Daranya Rasa and Michael Sandy were leading the walk this evening. It was very chilly but the woodcock's didn't make us wait for long. On our way out we were treated to seeing 4 or 5 Woodcocks flying into the peenting grounds in the prairie near the entrance to the sanctuary.
Each spring the male woodcock selects a peenting ground where he begins his song and dance. He dances about in a small area for a few minutes peenting at regular intervals. Then, he takes to the air spiraling in a large circle ever higher and higher. Through much of his ascent he makes a twittering noise, not unlike the sounds that flying saucers make in the movies. Once he reaches 200-300 feet he hovers briefly, then begins a zig-zag descent making a series of short squeaking sounds like sneakers on a gym floor. He then returns landing within a few inches of the spot where he took off. The woodcock will perform this feat several times in the fading twilight.
If you can locate a woodcock on its peenting ground you can move closer and closer to its stage in between each of its acrobatic flights. If you do it right you can catch the dancer in mid dance with your flashlights. Its quite a treat. As always don't disturb them too much. There is nothing sadder than a brokenhearted woodcock.