"Superbly camouflaged against the leaf litter, the brown-mottled American Woodcock walks slowly along the forest floor, probing the soil with its long bill in search of earthworms. Unlike its coastal relatives, this plump little shorebird lives in young forests and shrubby old fields across eastern North America. Its cryptic plumage and low-profile behavior make it hard to find except in the springtime at dawn or dusk, when the males show off for females by giving loud, nasal peent calls and performing dazzling aerial displays." (allaboutbirds.org)
Woodcocks are easiest to find at dusk in the springtime, when the male performs a marvelous display flight, or “sky dance.” We will attempt to locate a woodcock or two this evening by visiting a nearby property where they are common. It can be difficult to locate the bird in dim light, so we will listen for the distinctive, buzzy peent call given by the male. He intersperses this call, given from the ground, with his spiraling display flights. In the air, the male woodcock gives musical chirps and makes a twittering sound as air passes through his wingtips. We will make our best attempt to spot a displaying woodcock, as it is an experience not to be missed!
Prior to looking for woodcocks, we will meet for a pizza dinner and games at the Student Academic Success Center (SASC) at the University of New England campus. If you are planning to attend tonight's field trip, please RSVP to the email invitation you received and put in your topping preference for a personal-sized pizza from Pizza by Alex. (The pizza dinner will be covered by MYBC.) A variety of game options will be available, including birding trivia and board games, so come apply your birding skills in a fun, new way! After munching down some pizza and playing entertaining birding games, we'll head out into the evening to look for woodcocks.
Note: Guest Brad Moser will be joining us on this field trip to help out, as Seth cannot make it. (Brad is Lena's husband :)
LOGISTICS: Dress in layers and wear comfortable, WATERPROOF shoes. We will be trekking through some wet, muddy fields, so rubber boots or waterproof hiking boots are best.
Also bring the following: hat & gloves, warm coat, filled water bottle, binoculars, and a backpack in which you'll keep your stuff. If you do not have binoculars, MYBC will provide you with a pair.
MEET UP and PICK UP: Meet us at 5:00 pm at the UNE (11 Hills Beach Road, Biddeford) parking lot next to the Student Academic Success Center along Hills Beach Road (see map below). We will be birding until 9:00 pm. Please arrive back at the UNE parking lot to pick up your child at 9:00 pm.