- Westfall, Claude Z.
University of Maine Graduate School
The American woodcock (Philohela minor) is an important game bird in eastern North America. Throughout its range, hunters prize the woodcock, particularly because it "sits" well for a pointing dog. Unlike some game birds, the woodcock often remains "frozen" on the ground even though it may be within a few feet of the dog and in plain sight.
Although belonging to the shore bird group, the birds have the habits of a woodland species and choose upland covers in which to dwell. The crepscular activities and secretive actions of the woodcock during the day make it a very difficult bird to study. Much of their feeding at night and their courtship activities are performed in the dark. The birds undergo an animal migration between their wintering grounds and breeding areas. This movement is believed to take place normally during the night with the birds escaping detection. These habits keep the bird from being well known to the public and it is an enigma when it appears amongst non-hunters. Because of the limited period during which these birds my be seen, little information on their behavior has been gathered and written as compared with that of many other important game birds.