The Eurasian Woodcock – 10,000 Birds

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Whereas there are 8 species of woodcocks worldwide, solely two – the American and the Eurasian ones – are widespread. Because the American one is suspected of getting voted for Donald Trump within the 2020 election (regardless of this being towards its personal curiosity – elevated gun possession isn’t doing the species any good), this submit solely focuses on the Eurasian one.

Shanghai is simply on the Northern fringe of the species’ wintering vary, so the birds proven right here could keep for the winter or transfer additional south.

Apparently, the identify “woodcock” comes from Center English and is a mixture of wudu ‘wooden’ + cocc ‘fowl’. It appears the identify can also be used as an insult – a woodcock is a nickname for a naive or gullible individual. Equally, the German identify “Waldschnepfe” contains the phrase “Schnepfe”, which is used as a gentle insult for a woman or lady, or as a derogatory time period for a prostitute.

Whereas the woodcock has massive (and reasonably endearing) eyes, the sector of view is reasonably slim, although lengthy. Apparently, retinal fields within the horizontal aircraft are 182° large, and there’s no blind sector on the margin of the optical fields (supply). It appears like I’d like to have that sort of imaginative and prescient when searching for birds – although the paper states that such complete visible protection in all probability happens solely in species that rely primarily upon senses aside from imaginative and prescient to information foraging. I’m not positive I perceive the logic of this, however I assume evolution does.

The HBW has the scary info that “as much as 3,700,000 people [are] hunted yearly in Europe, with 1,500,000 in Italy, 1,300,000 in France, 400,000 in W Russia and 200,000 in Britain” and provides that “there have been ideas that such harvests are unsustainable and ought to be regulated”.

Wikipedia even states that “Eurasian woodcock are thought-about at their finest for culinary functions from October to December … the meat may be eaten as a starter, savory, or for breakfast. A fowl serves one individual.”

By the way, the big variety of woodcocks hunted additionally established the idea for a examine analyzing the significance of millipedes within the autumn-winter food regimen of the species. The authors “examined the autumn-winter food regimen of the woodcock Scolopax rusticola from 407 gizzard samples originating from Crimea and Italy” and located a excessive variety of millipedes in all of the samples (the paper contains the reasonably unhappy assertion that “the current authors had the chance to acquire a pattern of greater than 200 illegally shot specimens from Crimea and confiscated as they have been being imported to Italy”).

The place do woodcocks feed? As you may think, ornithologists have requested this query earlier than. The reply they’ve provide you with is as follows: “The vital components figuring out the place feeding happens are in all probability security from avian predators and excessive availability of earthworms.” It appears steady wifi connections usually are not that vital to woodcocks then.

Eurasian Woodcock with sad earthworms

One other paper that includes Eurasian Woodcocks was revealed within the reasonably pompously titled “Science of The Whole Surroundings” (you possibly can form of think about a fanatic chief asking an viewers of scientists whether or not they need the “whole surroundings”). Anyway, that paper appeared on the concentrations of heavy metals in soils, earthworms, and tissues of woodcocks in Quaderna Valley, northern Italy.

The woodcock has an interesting-looking feeding motion – bopping up and down whereas transferring ahead very slowly. I didn’t discover any info on the aim of this bopping – possibly it makes earthworms come out as they assume it has began raining? You possibly can watch this habits right here, assuming that my try and add the video has labored.

On the optimistic facet, it appears deer usually are not an issue for woodcocks. Plainly conservationists fear concerning the impact of accelerating populations of deer on birds depending on understorey vegetation – however a examine discovered no impact of deer looking on the diurnal density of Eurasian Woodcocks.

Not everybody likes woodcocks – eBird appears fairly destructive, calling the species “weird and cumbersome-looking” and including a gratuitous comment about its “fats physique”. Possibly eBird ought to examine fats shaming

Given the perspective eBird has towards the woodcock, it appears a bit hypocritical to criticize the species for being “pretty widespread however not often seen; lively primarily at nightfall and daybreak”. If everyone referred to as me fats, I’d act the identical manner – solely come out at night time to feed.

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