Birds of Seabrook Island

COAST BIRDS
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WORLD BIRDS
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ANECDOTES

  American Woodcock
 
 

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  Order Charadriiformes - Plovers, Sandpipers, Gulls, Terns, Auks
   Family Scolopacidae - "Sandpipers"
      Tribe Scolopacini - Woodcock

  Charadriiforms are a diverse group of shore and aquatic or wading or terrestrial birds. They include the sandgrouse, shore birds, gulls and terns, and alcids. The majority breed in the Northern Hemisphere.
   The Tree of Life includes shorebirds with the Ciconiiformes.
Sandpipers are a diverse group of shorebirds with bills not swollen at the tip. Most live in association with water. Short-billed forms feed on the surface using vision. Long-billed forms probe in mud and their prey is located by touch or smell. Tides influence their feeding cycles.   
Woodcocks are long-billed shorebirds of moist woodland floors and field edges. They are found singly and probe for worms. They are typically nocturnal.
     
     
  American Woodcock, Scolopax minor
 
Cornell     USGS     Wiki     ToL     EoL
        YEAR-ROUND - Rare / Rare
            DAMP WOODS
 
    American Woodcocks are large shorebirds with a very short tail, a patterned head and an orange-buff breast (note that the head pattern consists of bars across the head (compare with the longitudinal patterns of the Common Snipe). In the spring, as twilight approaches, they perform displays in open areas making a loud, nasal call as part of their display. Their wings also make characteristic sounds when they takeoff and make turns in flight.
   Woodcock prefer damp, brushy woods where they probe soft mud and soil for earthworms and other invertebrates, usually feeding at dusk or during the night. Notice the relatively large eyes.
American Woodcock
     
American Woodcock. Note the large eye and stout bill. This individual was captured in a mist net on Plum Island, NH, in the spring. It is being held by Jack P. Hailman, an ethologist at the University of Wisconsin, who exclaimed on approaching the bird in the net, "What a big Fox Sparrow." Not!
   
  RANGE: Woodcocks breed from the northwest corner of our state to the lower areas of Canada above the Great Lakes and west beyond the Mississippi. The winter in southern states south to central Florida and southern Texas. They are popular game birds.
   The Eurasian Woodcock, Scolopax rusticola, breeds broadly across Eurasia. It is larger than our woodcock and has heavily-barred underparts.
  BREEDING: Promiscuous. One brood. Males begin their advertising flight while still in their winter area - they perform at night over open, brushy fields. The movement of air over their primaries produces a twittering sound, becoming spaced bursts of twittering while the bird circles, and then as he plunges toward the ground the sounds are louder and more varied. On the ground, the male utters a nasal "beent" similar to the call of the nighthawk. We were fortunate to see these displays in central Pennsylvania - we banded birds on a field that was a woodcock favorite.
   Females build a nest scrape near the display area, often amid leaves and line it with leaves, needles or twigs. The lay 3 (3-5 eggs) which the female incubates for 20-21 days. Young are subprecocial and leave the nest after hatching. The female cares for the chicks and feeds them for a few days as they learn to find food. They are able to fly after 14 days and become independent at about 5 weeks.
  DIET: Woodcocks eat earthworms and insects which they obtain by probing with their long, sensitive bill. They also stomp their feet to help locate prey. Woodcocks may be able to hear sounds of subterranean prey.
  VOICE: They have no flight call. Their wings produce a twittering on takeoff and when making sharp turns. The displaying bird on the ground gives a nasal "beent" similar to the call of the Common Nighthawk but level and less harsh.
  NOTES:
   Checklists -
      Kiawah - rare, year round.
      Coastal - fairly common winter visitor, uncommon summer resident. Hilton Head - uncommon permanent resident.
         Cape Romain
- occasional/rare (breeds)/occasional/occasional. Huntington Beach - exceptional October - April.
      Caw Caw - uncommon year-round. ACE - common/occasional/common/common.
   CBC: ACE 0, 4, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0; Charleston 6, 5, 3, 1, 1, 2, 1, 2;
            Hilton Head 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1; Sun City/Okatie 1, 0, 0, CW, 1, 2, 0, 1;
            McClellanville 21, 1, 3, 2, nc, 2, 3, 3; Winyah Bay x, x, 3, 1, 2, 5, 1, 3; Litchfield/Pawley's 1, 4, 3, 0, 2, 50, 0, 9.
   SCBBA: Possible breeding, eastern Charleston Co. (and in Berkeley Co.)
   P&G: Fairly common resident, local breeding bird. Egg dates 2 February - 31 March.
   Avendex: 5 records.
   Potter: Fairly common permanent resident, more numerous in the coast in winter than summer. It is the only sandpiper than lives in damp woods and the only one that is predominantly crepuscular and nocturnal in its habits.
  ●  Rare. I suspect we lack suitable habitat on the island?
       
    Banner - American Woodcock. Plum Island, NH.
       
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