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© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, Jarmo Jutila, M. & W. von Wright: Svenska fåglar (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Woodcock

Scolopax rusticola

  • Name also: Eurasian Woodcock
  • Family: Sandpipers – Scolopacidae
  • Appearance: Larger and more rounded than otherwise similar snipes. Plumage reddish brown with many pronounced black and white mottled markings. Courtship display flights (around dawn and dusk) performed low over treetops with occasional stiff double wingbeats and wings held downwards.
  • Size: Length 33–38 cm, wingspan 55–65 cm, weight 225–370 g.
  • Nest: In a shallow depression on the ground, usually in the shelter of a small bush or low branches, lined with leaves and moss.
  • Breeding: Lays 4 eggs in April–May. (May raise a second brood in June–July.) Only females incubate, for 20–24 days. Fledglings soon leave nest to forage for themselves, and learn to fly within 10–35 days.
  • Distribution: Breeds in moist forests throughout Central and Southern Finland, also more scarcely as far north as Oulu and Kainuu. Also sometimes seen in northernmost Finland, since a separate population has expanded its range northwards along the Norwegian coast. Finnish breeding population estimated at 100,000–200,000 pairs.
  • Migration: Nocturnal migrant. Flies south August–November, returning March–April. Occasionally sighted in Finland during the winter, but mainly winters in Western Europe and around the Mediterranean.
  • Diet: Invertebrates.
  • Calls: Mating call performed during courtship display flights “orr, orr, orr, pist”.

Woodcocks’ plumage is a fairly uniform reddish brown with many pronounced black and white mottled markings. Their crowns and napes have wide black lateral stripes. Their rumps and tails are a plainer reddish brown in colouring, with dark lateral stripes that become greyer towards the edges of their tails. Their wings are shortish and have rounded ends. Their strikingly long beaks are reddish brown in colouring, darkening towards the tip. Woodcocks have yellowish grey legs and dark brown irises to their eyes.

The Woodcock is the only member of its family classed as a game bird in Finland.

Other species from the same family

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