Sunday, March 15, 2015

American Woodcock 3.15.15

     I have always known about this lovely little, cryptic bird but had yet to see one until today! And I didn't see one, or two, I saw three, all in my backyard that is Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY.  When I describe this bird, especially to my husband, I do a funny little dance/strut to remind him of the youtube video a woodcock is featured in.
     Since having never encountered this bird, I didn't know what to expect, having only seen it in pictures, fairly zoomed in with no frame of reference, I didn't know how big or small this bird was. They seemed smaller than I expected- and really well camouflaged, especially since I didn't even see the second one until I accidentally scared it away when walking to get a better view of the first one I spotted. They are beautiful and weird all at the same time, have a look through my lens:
Really, the only giveaway is that large dark doe eye! Cryptic coloration blends this animal seamlessly into the leaf litter that is collected below this tree. The drooping branches provide this bird with barriers to keep predators like hawks out and away and to help break up their shape even more. Honestly would not have seen this bird if I wasn't scanning with my binoculars!
A more zoomed in and cropped image, shows the long bill that is great for probing into the ground to pull out insects, grubs, and delicious earthworms. Woodcocks resemble shorebirds and are classified as such, but live inland in forests and forest edges.
I just love how perfect this animal is among all the leaves!
The woodcock is a true sign of spring, especially for their courtship behavior. The males call out then take flight, wings whistling, flying a bit erratically before plunging back down to the Earth. You can see someone captured it in video, and it's hard to see, because it often takes place at dusk into the night. 

Nature amazes me, and natural selection is breathtaking. Those feathers appear to be hand painted and look just like fallen leaves, the natural world is darn good at being beautiful!
Here is the their individual I spotted, hiding under a bush next to a grave. A little chance for you to appreciate this bird from a  different angle.