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American Woodcock

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From: Liana Hite
City:
Mattoon, IL
I came across a bird last Friday(Feb 24th) around dusk in my back yard. It was short but larger than a dove with beautiful striping on it's head and it's underside with a large eye and very thin long semi curved bill. I saw it among dried leaves and branches that were under a river birch tree in my yard. I believe it was an American Woodcock, but wanted to verify. I live in town and was very surprised to see this as I have never seen on in the 20 years I've lived in this area. Also I noted on the DNR page that these are declining in number . If I am correct in identifying it I feel privileged to have seen such a magnificent species!

 
Extension Message
From: Laura Kammin
Visiting Extension Specialist, Pollution Prevention
Extension-Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program
lkammin@illinois.edu
It does sound like an American woodcock. If it is a male, be on the lookout for its breeding display later in March. Aldo Leopold described their display as a “sky dance”: "The bird flutters skyward in a series of wide spirals, emitting a musical twitter. Up and up he goes, the spirals steeper and smaller, the twittering louder and louder, until the performer is only a speck in the sky. Then, without warning, he tumbles like a crippled plane, giving voice in a soft liquid warble that a March bluebird might envy". It is a worthy show.

 
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