|The American Woodcock calls on the ground before his aerial flight display|
|As he calls on the ground, the Woodcock turns in a circle in order to address the entire meadow|
|The "chunky" American Woodcock is probably our most bizarre looking shorebird|
At the crescendo of his flight display the male woodcock begins banking from side to side, and this creates a weaving or zig-zagging flight pattern. At this point he begins to descend and the twittering wing sound is augmented by some repetitive piping vocalizations. The flight display ends with the bird’s rapid descent to the ground and then, almost immediately, he resumes giving nasal “peent” calls. With any luck, a female woodcock had been observing this spectacle and was duly impressed.
|Sitting on her nest at the base of an Aspen tree, the female woodcock relies on her camouflage|
Apparently at least one female was captivated by the male's performance, because a week ago I found a female woodcock sitting on a nest in a nearby meadow. The woodcock’s excellent camouflage makes them just about impossible to pick out against the surrounding vegetation. The birds’ relatively large eggs are brownish and heavily blotched with dark spots so they too blend in with their surroundings, which is an important safeguard for whenever the female has to leave the nest in order to feed.
|A Pair of Blue-winged Teal - the male shows a crescent moon on the side of his face|
At one of our beaver ponds it looked for a little while like pair of Blue-winged Teal were going to nest. They spent over a week at the location and courtship and mating behavior was witnessed. The Blue-winged Teal is a very small duck – about half the size of a Mallard. They do nest in the region but they are by no means common here. The shoulder portion of the leading edge of their wings are light blue and that gives the species its common name. The Blue-winged Teal is sometimes a long distance migrant, wintering as far south as South America.
|This Painted Turtle laid her eggs in a chicken coop!|
Lately turtles have been very much in evidence at the nature preserve. In a few cases, some female Painted Turtles have been traveling far away from their wetland habitat in order to find suitable places to lay their eggs. However, sometimes these turtles find the most inappropriate places to lay. At her own home, one of Spring Farm CARES’ employees found a Painted Turtle in the midst of laying its eggs in a hole that it excavated inside of a chicken coop. It’s likely that the resident chicken will be surprised when baby turtles start to emerge from the ground. The mother turtle was brought to the preserve for release. She joins a healthy population of Paints and other turtles at our turtle/frog pond.