American Woodcock

Scolopax minor




Sandpipers, Phalaropes (Scolopacidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Buff or red brown with purple and brown spots

Number of Eggs:


Incubation Days:

20 - 22

Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

Among grasses and leaves on ground in overgrown fields.

Nest Material:

Grass, leaves.





American Woodcock: Medium-sized but unusually stocky sandpiper with buff-brown underparts and dark-streaked gray-brown upperparts. Head shows black bars rather than the stripes of most other sandpipers. Eyes are black and very large; bill is dull yellow with a black tip and is long and stout. Sexes are similar. Juvenile is duller overall.

Range and Habitat

American Woodcock: Migratory bird, primary breeding range takes in southern Canada, Maine and the Great Lakes region, dropping down as far as central West Virginia. Winter range includes Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas. Found in open woodlands and moist overgrown fields.

Breeding and Nesting

American Woodcock: Famous for the male's elaborate courtship flights that are called "sky dances." Every evening and sunrise for months, males gather in open wet fields to launch into high twisting flights with musical twittering notes and chirping calls. Females visit these dancing grounds and mate with one of the males, then nest solitarily on the ground in overgrown fields. Lays four buff or red brown eggs spotted with brown and purple. Incubation is 20-22 days, and chicks leave the nest within hours of hatching, and start feeding themselves after the first week.

Foraging and Feeding

American Woodcock: Feeds by probing in soft soil with its long sensitive bill. Eats primarily earthworms but also burrowing insect larvae. May rock gently back and forth while feeding, a behavior that is thought to startle worms so they move.


American Woodcock: Main call is a nasal "peent," courting males make twittering sounds by rushing air through wingtips during courtship flights.

Similar Species

American Woodcock: Wilson's Snipe lacks rufous hues and has heavily marked underparts, head stripes are lengthwise.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X