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Any of five species (family Scolopacidae) of plump, sharp-billed migratory birds of damp, dense woodlands in North America, Europe, and Asia. With eyes set far back on the head, a woodcock has a 360° field of vision. The buffy-brown, mottled plumage provides camouflage. A solitary bird, most active at dusk, it drums its feet to coax earthworms to the surface and then extracts them with its long, forceps-like bill; it may eat twice its weight in worms each day. The female American woodcock (Scolopax,or Philohela, minor) is about 11 in. (28 cm) long; the male is slightly smaller. The male's striking courtship display includes a long, repeated spiraling and dropping sequence. Woodcocks have been popular game birds.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on woodcock, visit Britannica.com.