Woodcock, the common name of two species of game birds, one native to the Old World, the other to North America. The North American woodcock, or timber doodle, spends the winter in the southeastern and south-central United States. About March, it begins to migrate northward, traveling as far as Labrador and Manitoba. It frequents damp woodlands and thickets.
The American woodcock is a chunky bird about 11 inches (28 cm) long. It has a short, thick neck; short legs; small, rounded wings; and almost no tail. Its eyes are close to the back of its head, enabling it to watch for enemies while it uses its long, flexible, sensitive bill to probe in soft soil and mud for earthworms.The American woodcock is a chunky bird with a long, flexible, sensitive bill.
The woodcock's coloring is a mixture of gray, brown, black, tan, and pink, and the bird is difficult to see among dead leaves. When alarmed, it flies straight upward, its wings making a whistling sound.
The nest consists of a few leaves in a depression in the ground. The eggs, usually three or four, are buff with brown and lilac spots. When danger threatens the nest, the female carries the young away, one by one, between her thighs.
The European woodcock is larger than the American, but has similar habits. It is sometimes found on the Atlantic Coast of the United States.
The American woodcock is Scolopax minor; the European, Scolopax rusticola. Both are members of the family Scolopacidae.