Back in early February of 2011, I joined a group at Prairie Ridge Eco-Station to hopefully see and hear the American Woodcocks in their courtship displays. At least 20 people showed up but, unfortunately, the woodcocks did not. Some of us, including myself, thought we heard the faint whistles of a bird in flight, but that was the closest we got.
A few weeks later, I arose early to get to a site near Lake Betz (aka Kit Creek) that looked like promising habitat for woodcocks. And indeed, on that occasion, I did definitely hear the sounds of a male peenting in the dark and, moments later, whistling wings as the bird flew off.
Today, as I left work, I noticed the sun was just setting. And the weather being mild (upper 50’s), I thought this might be a good evening for possibly hearing or seeing an American Woodcock. My instincts were either right, or I was very lucky.
With my windows open, I pulled into the gravel road at Lake Betz off Louis Stephens Rd open, and immediately I heard peenting. And not the faint, distant peenting of last year’s wispy encounters, but the loud peenting of a nearby bird. Straining my eyes in the dim light, I spotted the male on the grass 15-20 feet away. Scrambling for binoculars, I aimed them at him, and watched him open his beak (suprisingly wide) to peent. And peent he did. Over and over again, pivoting in place to face different directions to broadcast his sexy call. Well, it’s definitely sexy to a female woodcock.
But no female appeared, and the male finally flew off, whistling wings and all.
That was my first American Woodcock sighting and I like the feel of it just fine!