Woodcock

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The American woodcock is one of two shorebird species that can be hunted in Kansas. Like snipe, woodcock are short-legged, large bodied shorebirds (11 inches long, 7 oz), but they are much less abundant in Kansas than snipe. Woodcock occur in more wooded or shrubby habitat than snipe and are concentrated along riparian areas. This habitat preference substantially reduces their distribution in Kansas and eastern Kansas is on the western edge of this species’ range. Woodcock use their long bill to probe in the soil for animal foods, primarily earthworms.

Woodcock nest in Kansas and breeding activity begins in early spring with courtship. Males select one or more singing grounds, but focus their activity at one main site. At dawn and dusk, males perform ground and aerial displays for females. Ground displays involve making their trademark “peent” call every few seconds for about a minute. Then the male makes spiral flights over the singing ground. While flying, the male sings a more melodic song and makes a unique sound with its wings.

Most woodcock in Kansas are taken by quail hunters. Few Kansas hunters make woodcock their primary target quarry.