Key facts

Scientific name: Scolopax rusticola

Status: Resident breeding species

Breeding birds: 55,251 pairs

Wintering birds: 1.4 million birds

Conservation status: Red

Length: 33 – 35 cm

Wingspan: 55 – 65 cm

Weight: 240 – 430 g


Woodcocks are plump birds with broad wings. They have heavily vermiculated rufous-brown upperparts with paler, buff underparts barred with brown.

They have 3-4 black bars on their crowns and dark eye stripes and a white crescent below. Their chins and throats are white. Woodcocks have a long bill which is pinkish with a dark tip. Their eyes are dark brown, and their legs and feet vary from grey to pink.

Males and females look similar, but the male is much larger. Juveniles resemble the adults with a spotted forehead.


Woodcocks breed from early March to mid-April. Their nest is a shallow depression in the ground, lined with dead leaves and other plant material.

Woodcocks lay 2-6 creamy white eggs with brown spots. They are incubated by the female alone for 21-24 days. Chicks are precocial and leave the nest immediately. They fledge at about 15-20 days.


Woodcocks eat mainly earthworms but also spiders, beetles, crustaceans, and slugs. They will also eat plant matter such as seeds, fruits, grain, and grasses.  


Where to see them

Woodcocks can be seen in the summer all over the UK except for south-west England. In winter they are more widespread in lowland areas. They are difficult to spot unless disturbed.   


Teet Sirotkin/xeno-canto

Did you know?

Woodcock’s eyes are located high on the sides of its head giving it 360 degree monocular vision. 

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