Thursday, March 6, 2008


A return to the woodcock’s display ground, a cedar glade at Forks of the River, found a male “peenting” from the same location. (It was probably the same bird as last Saturday evening. See March 3 posting.) Albeit, after the heavy rains of yesterday, his stage was soppier. And our return slog through the wetland was sloppier—soak through your boots to your socks kind of sloppy.

With woodcocks, it's a matter of being in the right place at the right time. This twilight, the “bogsucker,” as the species was called during Audubon’s day, began his peent call at 6:54 p.m. and we were able to slowly creep through the dry grasses to be within only a few feet of the ardent crooner. We could see him on the ground, although with the fading light not that clearly. It's remarkable how he practically disappeared, right before our very eyes. Poof!

Audubon wrote that American woodcocks favored “Rivulets that run through thickets, and of which the margins are muddy or composed of oozy ground.” Ooozy ground, indeed! Seeing such an odd little bird in such an out of the way location makes you wonder: Just what else is out there peenting in the night?

- American woodcock by John James Audubon, "The Birds of America" Plate #268


Vickie said...

This slogging in the bog is so very Huck Finn. I'm enjoying your mini essays. vickie

Stephen Lyn Bales said...

Yes. I'm afraid Huck never grew up. He's still a ten-year-old boy playing in the mud.