[TN-Bird] American Woodcock (Greene Co., TN)

January 28, 2005

This evening I observed four American Woodcocks behind the Italian
Village Restaurant on North Rufe Taylor Road in Greeneville.  This site,
an open field with sedge or sedge-like grass, has been a reliable spot
for woodcocks for at least the last five years.

The first sign that woodcocks were present--the classic "peent"
call--began at 6:17 p.m.  Within a few minutes, I heard (and partially
saw) the whole display--"peent" call on the ground, wing "whirr" (which
perhaps is better described as trills delivered in bursts) as the birds
rose in the air, and "kissing" or "smacking" calls as they descended.

I also heard an aggression call that I have heard only rarely before.
This sound is a somewhat harsh, somewhat nasal "tat-tat-tat-tat,"
vaguely reminiscent of the machine-gun-like song of the White-breasted
Nuthatch.  I heard this vocalization as a woodcock was approaching a
landing in an area where I had just identified another woodcock.  I
couldn't tell if the incumbent was objecting to the challenger or
vice-versa, but it was thrilling nonetheless.

The action continued until about 6:28 p.m.

In checking my records, I discovered that I have no other January
woodcock observations.  I suspect that this is not because the birds are
unlikely to display in Greene County in January, but rather that I have
simply not looked at the right time and in the right place.

Don Miller
Greeneville, TN

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