Two nights ago, a hardy bunch of natural historians braved frigid weather to witness one of the coolest (or that night, coldest) bird mating displays in the US- that of the woodcocks. As dusk settled over a field in southern New Jersey, we huddled deeper into our fleeces and listened. Suddenly, a peent! The woodcocks were out tonight, despite the cold! Before long the peentings of at least five or six birds could be heard from the wooded borders of the field. Finally, one brave woodcock took to the skies, and the shrill wind whistling through his reed-like tail feathers made a crazy warbling for us all to hear (check out http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/american_woodcock/sounds to hear samples). Many more followed, and soon the darkening sky was peppered with climbing or swooping birds. The night was completed by a foray into the tall grass, by now rendered pitch black by nightfall, in order to catch some birds in our spotlights and witness the show-offs on the ground. Overall an excellent adventure for the Metropolitan Society of Natural Historians!
A special thank you to Olivia Janovitz for some great photos. To view photos form this event, visit here.