American Game Birds

Illustrating More Than One Hundred Species In Natural Colors

By Chester A. Reed

Page 30

WOODCOCK (Philohela minor) breed throughout eastern United States and the adjacent Canadian Provinces and winter chiefly in our southeastern states. They are stockily built, upland game birds, measuring about n in. in length, of which length about one quarter is contained in the long heavy bill. They feed at night in muddy places in bogs, swamps or along brooks, their bills with the flexible, finger-like tips being admirably adapted to withdrawing worms from their places of concealment. Their eyes, which are large so that they may see well after dark, are placed far back and close to the top of the head so they may see about them when their bills are immersed to their hilts in mud. After showers Woodcock frequently come even into large cities and gather worms from lawns. This accounts for the numbers that are caught by cats and that are found dead after having flown into unseen wires. Because of their feeding habits, they are locally known as "Bog-birds." The term "Whistling Snipe" is sometimes applied, because during flight the three outer wing feathers, which are very stiff and narrow, produce a shrill whistling sound. Woodcock lay their four pear-shape eggs in depressions among dead leaves in thickets or woods, usually late in March or early in April.

     Their flight is fast and very erratic, making them difficult targets for the novice, which fact accounts for their continued existence in the face of the annual shooting to which they are subjected.


WILSON SNIPE (Gallinago delicata). These birds, which measure about the same as Woodcock, although their bodies are much smaller, are common throughout North America, breeding in northern United States and Canada and wintering in southern United States. They frequent meadows and other open wet places, from which they flush with a sharply whistled "scaipe" and go zigzagging away in a manner most confusing to any but a tried gunner. They are almost wholly known among the sporting fraternity as Jacksnipe.

     Their excellent flesh, as well as the difficulty of shooting them, make them very popular among gunners.