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  • Writer's pictureMYBC

American Woodcock Walk, Alewife Reservation, Cambridge, MA

Updated: Jul 6, 2022

🔊 SOUND ON! 🔊 "PEENT PEENT", Video of a male American Woodcock calling in between its breeding display flights by club member, Shin Yu. The excited young birders were rewarded by an American Woodcock landing a few feet from where they were patiently waiting for birds to begin their breeding flights.

On Saturday April 9, 2022 the Mass Young Birders spent dusk at Alewife Reservation,

An American Woodcock stands in a snowy wooded area in Rhode Island by Colby Slezak

Cambridge, MA to celebrate the start of spring with American Woodcocks. America's strangest shorebird, the American Woodcock, is unique in many ways. It lives in the forest (a shorebird in the forest?!), and at the beginning of the breeding season in late March through mid-April, the male uses nearby open spaces to court onlooking females. This dazzling flight display is what the MYBC set out to witness.

American Woodcock sketched by Henry Malec-Scott, MYBC Club member, made into a keychain made by Nicole Malec-Scott for all attendees. We're pretty sure these good luck keychains increased our chances of seeing some American Woodcock displays.

At dusk, Mass Young Birders gathered at a prime vantage point across the river from where birds were seen displaying on previous nights. Birders patiently waited for it to get dark enough. EUREKA! Finally, club members heard an American Woodcock make its distinctive nasally "PEENT" call (as heard in the above video). Shortly after the calls began, the male flew high into the sky, circled us overhead, and a musically spiraled to the ground. Throughout the half hour display, we heard a total of 3 individual American Woodcock calling.

Panoramic photo of the bike path and boardwalk the MYBC birded at Alewife Reservation, by Clara Cooper-Mullin.

Let's not forget that we saw lots of bird species before sunset on our walk along the bike path! Our walk meandered along the river and onto a wooden boardwalk. The diverse habitats we walked through at Alewife Reservation including open space, shrubby understory, forest edges, and water allowed us to see a variety of bird species! Take a look at our full species checklist on eBird.

Photos by Mass Young Birder Club members taken during our birding walk at Alewife Reservation. Photos first to last: Red-winged Black Bird by Shin Yu; Song Sparrow by Henry Malec-Scott; Canada Geese in flight by Henry Malec-Scott; Mallard by Shin Yu; Mute Swan by Shin Yu; Cottontail by Shin Yu; Club members birding on concrete structure, in field, and on boardwalk by Kristen DeMoranville.

We're planning some fun spring activities as birds return from their wintering grounds and start to breed. Be sure to check out our upcoming events page for details!

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