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The Woodcock is closely related to Sandpipers and the Common Snipe, having a long life span of approximately 5 years. Woodcock are spotted in black and brown with big eyes and a long slender bill. Both males and females grow up to about a foot in length and females weigh around 10 oz and males about 6 or 7 oz.
Woodcock are found in the eastern portion of the United States. Their typical diet includes earthworms, grubs and other insects which they eat by using their long bills to probe the ground during dawn and dusk. In addition to insects they will also eat berries and leaves. Woodcock eat very quickly to avoid the sun because they don’t like the heat. When they are not eating they hole up under trees to soak up the shade.
Woodcock are polygamous and have a very involved mating process. This process begins when the male makes a buzzing sound and then he walk around bobbing his head up and down. Next he takes off and starts flying around in ever-tightening circles until he is very high above the ground. Finally he will spin back to the ground singing out to all the female birds.
Woodcock prefer to live in wooded areas that have sufficient amounts of alders and aspen because they provide a lot of shade and softer ground, allowing them to easily dig for worms. Similar to the mourning bird, Woodcock head south as soon as the first frost comes.
It is easy to tell if Woodcocks are near by because they leave chalky white marks on the ground. These spots are remains of their whitewash and are easily washed away by rain. When the spots are visible it means that a Woodcock was recently in the area.
Woodcock tend to hold tight when they sense danger instead of running away. When Woodcock do run away they have a frantic and jagged flight pattern, which is very similar to the Mourning Dove. When they do flush they will only fly up to a few hundred yards, rising vertically very quickly. That is why most hunters end up shooting below them. This can be avoided by aiming higher than normal. Most often they will only flush once even though they have very short flights. Most hunters prefer using a 20 or 28 gauge shotgun with size 8 field loads.