American Woodcock (Scolopax minor)
General: The American woodcock, also called the timberdoodle, lives in forested uplands. Earthworms make up 80 percent of its diet; a woodcock finds worms by probing with its bill in the soil. Woodcock breed in eastern North America. Most migrate to the southern states for the winter, although some stay as far north as the Mid-Atlantic. Woodcock use slightly different habitats depending on the time of day, the season, and where they are within their continental range. In general, they prefer young forest and shrub thickets. In spring, males use openings in or near young woodlands for calling and attracting females. Hens nest on the ground and take their newly hatched chicks into thick brush or young forest for feeding.
Status: The woodcock's population has fallen by about 1 percent yearly since the 1950s, with loss of young forest habitat the most critical factor. A rangewide conservation effort to increase the amount of habitat available to woodcock is based on regional initiatives featuring partnerships between natural resource agencies, nature organizations, forest products companies, and private landowners.
How to Help Woodcock: Harvesting timber can create patches of regrowing forest that provide good habitat for up to 20 years. Clearcutting, selective tree harvesting, cutting down or mechanically browsing back old shrubs, and controlled burning also can make and renew habitat.
Click on the map at left to see a larger image.
Learn more about woodcock conservation and habitat projects at www.timberdoodle.org.
For more detailed information on this animal, including references to scientific papers, download Under Cover: Wildlife of Shrublands and Young Forest. This publication can also be purchased from the Wildlife Management Institute.
Visiting a habitat demonstration area within this species' range is a good way to increase your chances of seeing woodcock and other young forest wildlife.