home biology qanda contact updates links

General Des/Other Information | Roding | Where they Come From | Bag Returns and Population Densities |Research at Home

 

 

Description of the Beak
The articulate beak allow the woodcock to grasp worms and other invertebrates underground. Females tend to have a longer beak than the males. Average beak length for woodcock is 70mm with" normal" extremes between 60mm-80mm. Short beak length for woodcock is less than 50mm.

To Measure the Beak

Use the distance between the tip of the beak on the upper mandibill and the V where the beak meets the head.


D
escription
The Oxford book of birds, pocket edition, published in 1964 describes the woodcock (Scolopax Rusticola) as 13 (thirteen) inches or 330mm long with a bill which measures 3 (three) inches long, normal extremes are 65mm to 80mm, it looks like a large, round-winged snipe with a high domed head in which a large black eye is set very far back. Sexes are alike Size wise, this bird is slightly smaller than a wood-pigeon, it is a barred russet brown colour with white endings to its tail feathers, its eyes are in the middle of its head so it can look forward and backward, it has a very long beak in relation to the size of its body, males and females are alike and it is only by dissection can the sexes be identified. Young birds may be identified by their primary wing feathers, in a young woodcock the ends of the primaries are worn and ragged and darker in colour all the way to the end of the primaries while an adult bird shows a clean rounded end to the primaries with a lighter coloured band at the end to the feather.

The woodcock is a resident, a summer and winter visitor and a passage migrant, it may be found in the following areas, woodland with light undergrowth, on heather moorland and bogland which is populated by stands of birch and alder. Woodcock rest by day and feed by night, flying out to pastures to probe for worms and other insects. Seeds and vegetation also form part of their diet. Woodcock lay four eggs. The nest is set on the ground, the eggs are grey/white in colour with chestnut and ash-grey blotches. Eggs are laid from mid March to June, incubation is about twenty-one days by the female only and the chicks leave the nest after a few hours. Young woodcock are apparently independent at three weeks old. A second clutch may be reared under particular circumstances but this would not be the norm. The male remains in the vicinity and he will probably have mated with a number of other females. Woodcock are not gregarious normally, except possibly at mating time and migration, and it is unusual if not unknown to see a flock of woodcock, generally one or two birds together is normal. In late autumn and winter there is a dramatic rise in the population of woodcock in Ireland due to winter visitors as those birds are driven here by inclement weather and their natural urge to migrate.

The BOOK OF THE WOODCOCK by Colin Laurie McKelvie first published in 1986 is a marvellous insight into the world of the woodcock. The historic and anecdotal evidence that surrounds this mysterious bird is explored in depth and this book should be in the possession of all those who pursue this secretive little bird.


General Des/Other Information | Roding | Where they Come From | Bag Returns and Population Densities |Research at Home
home biology qanda contact updates links