The other day I was heading down the Echo Trail on my way back from a morning of birding, when I came around a curve and there appeared, quite suddenly, a family of Woodcocks! One adult and at least 4 babies.
I pulled over as quick as I could and got the camera out. I walked back to the spot where the birds had been, which was only about 50 feet away from where I stopped my car. As I got closer to the spot, I noticed a small pile and I thought, oh no, one of the chicks had been hit by a car. I didn’t think that I had hit anything.
I thought I’d take a picture of it before examining it further – when all of a sudden the pile of fluff jumped up, held its wings straight up and headed for the woods.
American Woodcock chick
The Woodcock chick held his wings straight up in the air the whole way back to the side of the road and the safety of the tall grass.
The bird is so young that it hasn’t grown feathers under its wings yet.
He made it back to the family group. There were other chicks running around in the grass and ferns and the mama Woodcock was flying frantically in the woods. They are one strange looking bird – the adult doesn’t have much of a tail and their long wings look incongruous with their bodies. Woodcocks are part of the shorebird family and the similarities come through in strange ways. Maybe the wing display was one of those traits that they share. Sometimes shorebirds will display their wings by holding them straight up in the air for a second or two.