Welcome Back, Woodcock!

I received this fantastic photo this morning:

Woodcock Tracks in Snow. (c) Christopher Takacs. Taken March 16, 2017. Weequahic Park, Newark, NJ.

Not quite the redcoats, but the woodcock are coming and in fact they are already here — and not just in Newark.

I had even more reports flooding into my email and facebook account – which I love – so keep them coming!

With our very mild winter, it looks like the woodcock came north several weeks earlier than normal – which is leading to all these surprising sightings.

Ebird maps for February 2017 (larger) and February 2016 (inset) showing observed woodcock.

20 Woodcock in NYC, 24 in Newark, NJ this week. So what’s going on with all the woodcock? Have they undergone a rapid shift in habitat preference all of sudden eschewing woodlands and utilizing urban patches?  #SnowStormStella, or #blizzard2017, has presumably pushed all the woodcock to where snow cover is least — road edges (near people) and heat islands (near people). So all the woodcock that either stayed around over winter, or returned north early, got caught here for the snowstorm. Which means as soon as the snow melts we can expect courtship flights to resume.

Want to see a woodcock for yourself?  This week, you don’t need to go far — they’re probably in your local park – especially if it has a good bit of cover or it’s in a built up area. Not sure? Check out the ebird map for your town and see if anyone has reported one. And if you find me? Feel free to let me know @woodcockwatchNJ or in the comments!

As soon as they snow melts, we’ll be heading out to the field to launch our season. Stay tuned!


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