Sunday, February 28, 2010

First woodcock of 2010

American Woodcock 3/18/07
photo by Lloyd Spitalnik

The American Woodcock, one of the earliest harbingers of spring, shows up in Central Park when winter appears to be at its height. The chubby long-billed shorebird is often sighted when the park is covered with snow, as indeed was the case with the first Woodcock of 2010 that was reported yesterday in eBirds. It may be, of course, that the bird was present in the park for some time before the snowstorm, hidden from sight by its cryptically pattered plumage. But a snow cover will always give it away.
Woodcocks will appear in Central Park with greater frequency throughout March. By the beginning of April they will head for their breeding grounds . Unfortunately [for us] none breed in Central Park, but they may be found performing their dramatic courtship rituals in various areas not far from the city. It's a sight not to be missed.

The eBirds report read:

A very cooperative woodcock was in the stream in front of Warbler Rock in the Oven at 3pm, Feb 27.

Today many Central Park birdwatchers will be Woodcock hunting, myself included.