Woodcock watch in Jackson Park during February

Published 9:24am Monday, February 18, 2013

With good luck you will hear the males as they start their courtship in the waning daylight hours. The stillness of the evening will be broken by a nasal “peent,” very reminiscent of the flight note of a Common Nighthawk. This is uttered as he struts around on his chosen display ground, and after calling for a while he flies high into the night sky up to a height of a few hundred feet, twittering all the way. Then, with descending bell-like notes, he returns to the ground to continue the nasal “peents.” This whole process will be repeated many times during the night.

We saw at least three birds doing their display flights that evening, silhouettes against a glowing winter sky, and listened to their songs. The views were not great, but the atmosphere was wonderful, as we quietly drank in the sounds of the waning day. To get a glimpse into the daily routine of such a shy bird is a fascinating experience, enhanced by the cool winter air and the leafless woodlands; it very readily brings on a renewed awe for the natural world.

Simon Thompson has lived in WNC for the past 20 years. He owns and operates his own birding tour company, Ventures Birding Tours. WWW.birdventures.com

He and Chris also own and operate the Asheville Wild Birds Unlimited Store. For more information on any of the birding activities in the area, drop by the store or check his website at www.asheville.wbu.com

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