Coming home from our hike yesterday, Taffy alerted me to a bird in the leaf litter not far from the road.
An American Woodcock! These are shy birds, hard to spot. We will hear them on their spiraling mating flights soon, but it is very rare to get a good look at one! The handsome chap wasn't helpful enough to pose while I got my camera out, and flew farther into the woods, so I had to get some stock photos.
These are quite remarkable birds. They like to hid in the woods, on the forest floor where they use those long beaks to probe for earthworms. On spring nights, the males perform very conspicuous displays, rising in the air in a spiral, giving very buzzy 'peent' call, then fluttering down in a steep dive to the ground.
It is often the only time you'll see (or hear) them, and we look forward to them every Spring. They are quite partial to the open fields here, and often display over our big garden, or the horse pasture. Go here, and give a little listen to their unique call.