We noticed him below the path in what amounted to a puddle surrounded by a snowbank. At first he would have passed for a hunk of wood, but then we realized we were looking at somebody whose long beak was patiently probing the mud in search of food. I had my old camera with me so frankly I doubted that there would be enough detail to key him out. The cryptic plumage was just that but our trusty software gradually produced enough of an image for us to hit the books. Well, he was either a snipe or a woodcock. Either was fine with me, although woodcocks in particular have enormous appeal with their big eyes and comical proportions. I decided on snipe. I guessed wrong, because Reuven, our go-to birder of note, instantly pronounced our brave survivor a woodcock; he even had another woodcock he’d been observing, though not in this park. He mentioned that they really struggle when it is this cold. My heart broke.
This morning I was fearful to go and look, but there he was, head tucked under a wing and one big brown eye keeping watch. The weather is softening and I do hope he is able to wait it out. We have a date at dusk in a week or so, and I’m dying to see him again. Woodcocks, you see, are crazy for love. When the mood strikes, they slip into John Travolta’s old disco outfit and affect a sexy slow strut with lots of wiggle. I’ve just wasted a good hour watching a variety of woodcocks, many of them strutting to perfect background music. It was hard to choose but I offer you my favourite: Type “American Woodcock shows off Dance Moves” in your browser or copy and paste https://www.google.ca/search?q=american+woodcock+shows+off+dance+moves&oq=american&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j69i59j0l4.4170j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8 and make sure the volume is turned up. Prepare to lose your heart. I don’t know about you, but I would follow that guy anywhere, just one more contented member of his conga line.
To gild the lily, his Egyptian waggle dance is mere foreplay. After calling all local females, M. Woodcock performs a death-defying takeoff straight up into the air just to prove he can. An aerial mating display -- now that's what I call a date!