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One of my goals this spring was to find and photograph woodcock during the day. For the last several weeks I have been scouting out the best locations where I can find these elusive birds fairly consistently. Although there are a lot of great areas, one of the best spots I have been able to find is Columbia Mine at Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge near Oakland City, Indiana.
Having previously encountered this particular woodcock on multiple occasions within a relatively small area, I set out this morning to see if I could spot him before he spotted me.
In full camo and moving into the bird's regular territory very slowly I was fortunate enough to see the woodcock take a few steps, bobbing up and down. If it had not moved, I am sure I would have missed it.
By moving very slowly and quietly and trying to avoid eye contact, the bird eventually decided I was not a threat and became comfortable with my presence. Over the next hour and a half I was able to observe the bird resting, preening and forraging from never more than 20ft away.
The most interesting thing to watch was the bird's bobbing motion as it walked (see video). According to Cornell, this motion of pressing each foot into the earth multiple times with each step is intended to make earthworms move and easier to locate. Very cool!
In any case, I was very pleased to be able to witness such a unique and interesting bird go about it's daily routine. God makes neat stuff!
Monday, March 25, 2013
American Woodcock by Steve Gifford