First sighting of breeding American woodcock on Fishers Island in many years. Kyle Kibbe Photo
The American woodcock is neither endangered nor globally threatened. Island residents have reported seeing woodcocks in the Parade Grounds, and its song was documented in the Parade Grounds during the 2018 spring migration.
The exciting news, however, is that this is the first example of a breeding pair on Fishers Island for some time. These birds were spotted April 11 near South Beach. They have clearly benefited from ongoing grassland restoration in the Parade Grounds, Elizabeth Airport, Race Point and South Beach.
Although classified with sandpipers as shorebirds, American woodcock spend most of their time hidden in fields and on the forest floor probing for earthworms where the soil is moist.
The population of the American woodcock has fallen by an average of slightly more than 1% annually since the 1960s. Most authorities attribute this decline to a loss of habitat caused by forest maturation and urban development.
There are many colorful folk names for the American woodcock. These include timberdoodle, bogsucker, night partridge, brush snipe, hokumpoke, twitterpate, little gomer, fiddle squeak, worm sabre, wafflebird, bumblebee chicken, mud needle, prairie turtle, and crazy straw.