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The world of birds amazes with its diversity, the trills of song birds surprise and raise the mood, game species have long been a source of food for humans. Even now, many of them are coveted trophies for hunters. Today, people are more often interested in birds out of curiosity, a desire to learn more about their lifestyle. Today's conversation is about the habitats of the American woodcock and its habits.
Description of the American woodcock
There are several varieties of woodcocks. They all have common features, are similar in appearance, but differ in habitat and size. It is a small bird with short legs and a rounded body; it is much smaller than other species of woodcocks. Such structural features are reflected in the gait of the birds, it seems that they are rolling on the ground.
The length of the "American" is from 25 to 33 centimeters, the weight of the woodcock is about 200 grams. Females are larger than males, weighing only 160-165 grams. The eyes, located high on the sides of the head, provide an all-round view of the bird.
A thin beak, 6-7 centimeters long, is typical of all members of this family. The combination of various shades of gray and brown in the plumage and the dark stripes on the back characteristic of all woodcocks make them invisible to predators and hunters. That is why the American woodcock is a particularly valuable trophy.
The American woodcock lives in North America, Canada, chooses the southern states for wintering, from Oklahoma to Florida, and does not occur at all on the European and Asian continents. The bird nests in the northeastern part of the United States, in the central and eastern states of the country, it can winter and hatch chicks, but more often in the winter it moves to the south, these birds are migratory birds.
What does it eat?
The basis of the diet is earthworms, so birds prefer places rich in humus for habitation. Woodcocks also feed on insects and their larvae (beetles, sawers, millipedes, earwigs).
Zarechny Maxim Valerievich
Agronomist with 12 years of experience. Our best summer cottage expert.
Important: in a day they can eat an amount of food equal to their weight. They will diversify the meal with plant food: grain seeds, young grass, berries.
They fly low and slowly, are nocturnal, nest and spend most of their life on the ground. Deciduous forests, forest edges, abandoned arable lands with loose soil are chosen for habitation.
When searching for food, they touch their paws and sway; from the side it seems that the birds are dancing on the ground. They create vibrations in the soil, forcing the earthworms to get out. Ponds or puddles of rainwater are suitable for cleaning feathers. In spring and summer, birds live in deciduous forests, in autumn they move to places with young shoots.
The flight to the nesting sites begins in April, the males arrive there a little earlier than the females. The male springs, attracting the female with a mating song. They do not take part in caring for chicks and mate with several females during the season. Females build nests on their own in meadows and forest edges. They choose places in the shade of trees and bushes, making depressions in the soil and lining them with grass and leaves. The bird lays 4 eggs. They incubate for 23-25 days.
After the chicks have hatched and dried up, the mother takes them away into the forest, under the protection of vegetation. She finds secluded places rich in food. In 2 weeks after birth, the chicks can already fly, at 5-7 weeks they become adults.
Birds are well camouflaged, but they are defenseless against humans and predators who are not averse to feasting on woodcocks:
- American caresses;
- feral cats.
Many birds die from natural disasters. Snow storms, thunderstorms, return frosts reduce the population size. Males who return from wintering earlier than females especially suffer from this. Man changes the environment, leaving birds without natural habitats. Until the 1930s, birds were actively hunted.
Population and status
Today the American woodcock is under state protection. Hunting for birds is prohibited, the population is being counted, their habitats are preserved, old trees are partially cut down to rejuvenate the deciduous forest, the edges are preserved to provide birds with nesting places.
The American woodcock is a part of a unique ecosystem, which they are trying to preserve, because the diversity of species of birds, animals and other inhabitants of the Earth is important not only for humans, but for the entire planet.