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The long-beaked Woodcock cares for its young in several unique ways

Posted in Birds, Nature, Wildlife on Tuesday, 28 February 2012

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This edited article about birds originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 654 published on 27 July 1974.

Long-beaked Woodcock, picture, image, illustration

The long-beaked Woodcock carrying a chick to a new nesting ground, by R B Davis

The long-beaked Woodcock is found in wooded country in most parts of Britain but is seldom seen except in the evening just after sunset when the male bird sets out on its courtship flight. This takes it on a circuit of a couple of miles or more round and round it’s nest site, flying just above the trees. While doing this it continually utters its peculiar call, consisting of two distinct notes, one a kind of short whistle and the other a low grunt.

For a long time it has been claimed that Woodcocks have the unique habit of carrying their young in flight to a new nest site, when the old one becomes threatened. It was the subject of great controversy and many ornithologists thought it to be just an Old Wives’ Tale. But in recent years many authenticated records have been published and it is now accepted as fact.

The nest of the Woodcock is just a depression in the ground in which the female lays her eggs, three or four in number. If an intruder approaches, the adult bird feigns injury and flutters along the ground as though it has an injured wing, in the hope of enticing the intruder away from the nest.

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