Woodcock Scolopax rusticola   [Linnaeus, 1758]

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Order: Charadriiformes Family: Scolopacidae
BTO Codes: WK, WOODC EURING No: 5290
Number in Britain: 78 thousand Males (Summer)
Conservation Status:
European: 3 Concern, most not in Europe; Declining
Global: (Details)
Status in UK: (A)  Migrant/Resident Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor
Subspecies: Monotypic
Length: 34 cm Wingspan: 58 cm Weight: M/F: 280 g    
Scientific name from: Gr.: skolopax=the woodcock and L.: rusticus=rural +colere=to dwell
World Distribution: BREEDS: Locally in Europe & n&c Asia, WINTERS: south to n Africa & se Asia
Habitat: Damp woodland and heath
Diet: Earthworms, insects, esp beetles, also plant material, by probing in damp ground
TitBit: Its beautiful plumage provides almost perfect camouflage when it is on the ground - but one feather, the pin feather (the covert of the leading primary) was used widely, both as a delicate paintbrush and as an instrument to lift small objects, such as motes of dust from people's eyes.  
Identification Tips:
  Images from IBC or search flickr
  Videos from IBC
  Sound from xeno-canto
Crossley ID photos

Population and Distribution

Population Trend: BirdTrends   
Regional Trends: No regional trends available
Distribution: Atlas Mapstore   
British Population Size:
    Summer: 78 thousand Males in 2003
    Winter: 1.4 million individuals in 2003/2004
    First Record: Recorded in Anglo-Saxon times [Fossil evidence from early Holocene, up to 10,000 yr ago]
    First Breeding Record: S England? early 1800s
    Latest Survey: Hoodless, A.N. et al. (2009) Bird Study 56:15-25
    Conservation Status: AMBER because Species of European Concern,
   Previous Assessments: 2002-2007 AMBER     1996-2001 AMBER  
   Races of Concern:
Habitat Occupancy (in the Breeding Season):
    No habitat data from BBS
Migration routes: Map of foreign ringing recoveries
European Population Size:
    Summer: 600 thousand to 1.6 million pairs
Population Assesment from Birds in Europe
Distribution in Europe mapped by the EBCC Atlas
Listed on the Appendices/Schedules of: WCA(II,III), WBD(II* & III*), Bern(III), Bonn(II), AEWA
Survey Results: Results from BirdTrack
Results from Woodcock Network

Breeding and Survival

Egg Size: 44 x 34 mm Egg Weight: 26.5 g (of which 5 % is shell)
Number of Nest Records: 8
Clutch Size: 4 eggs
Incubation: 21- 24 days   by the: Female
Fledging: 15 - 20days as: Precocial, downy
First Clutches Laid: Unavailable
Number of Broods: 1
See trends in Breeding Productivity
Number Ringed: Annual Totals
Adult Survival: 0.610       
Juvenile Survival: 0.360 (in First-Year)  
Age at First Breeding: 2 years Typical Lifespan: 4 years
Maximum Recorded Age: 15 years 5 months 12 days (set in 1937)
Read a summary of Ringing Recoveries


Ring Size: D or E (pulli E)
Wing Length Sexually dimorphic (male much larger than female)
Male: 203.9 ± 5.1 195 - 211 mm, N =28
Female: Insufficient Data
Weight Sexually dimorphic (male much larger than female)
Male: 291.1 ± 59.81 169.5 - 359.5 g , N =20
Female: Insufficient Data
British Trust for Ornithology (2005) Ringing Scheme data

Other Names

Eurasian Woodcock
Gaelic: Coileach-coille Welsh: Cyffylog
Danish: Skovsneppe Dutch: Houtsnip
Finnish: Lehtokurppa French: Bécasse des bois
German: Waldschnepfe Hungarian: Erdei szalonka
Icelandic: Skógarsnípa Irish: Creabhar
Italian: Beccaccia Norwegian: Rugde
Polish: Slonka zwyczajna Portuguese: Galinhola
Spanish: Becada Swedish: Morkulla
Collective Noun:Fall

For More Information...

Books and Monographs:
   Nethersole-Thompson, D. & M. 1986 Waders, their breeding, haunts and watchers Poyser, London [598.6 NET]
   Hoodless, A. 1995 Studies of West Palearctic birds: Eurasian Woodcock British Birds 88:578-591
   Ferrand, Y. (ed) 2006 Sixth European Woodcock and Snipe Workshop (IWS 13) Wetlands International, Wageningen [598.61 FER]
See Also:
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Wikipedia entry
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BirdLife species page
Recent sightings and information from BirdGuides