Late breeding record of the American Woodcock

TitleLate breeding record of the American Woodcock
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1959
AuthorsJr. OSewall Pet
JournalJack Pine Warbler

As the American Woodcock (Philohela minor) normally nests very early in the spring season, the following information is of interest. On July 7, 1959, two of my students, Ann Chamberlain and Edward B Cutler, found a young Woodcock dead in the road near Greenman's Point, Burt Lake, Cheboygan County, Michigan. When they approached the specimen, which was still warm, another young bird, apparently the same age, and an adult flew up from the road shoulder just a few feet away. Both birds soon dropped down and the adult proceeded to feign injury for several minutes. Comparing the dead young bird to a young specimen in my collection (OSP 232) that I knew to be 14 days old when I took it in North Spencer, New York, on July 1 1932 (Pettingill, 1936, "The American Woodcock", Mem. Boston Soc. Nat. Hist., 9: 324-326), I noted that their heads were similarly downy and that their wings were practically identical in length and in development of flight feathers. The bill of the Michigan specimen was longer by 4 millimeters. On the basis of this comparison, I estimate that the Michigan specimen could have been no older that 16 days, which would mean that it had hatched no earlier that June 20. There are few recorded instances of the Woodcock producing young this late in the year, even in the northern-most parts of the species' range.