Since the females alone incubate the eggs, finding a woodcock on the nest is the only way I’m sure the bird is female. These ground nesting birds depend upon camouflage to avoid the eye of a predator and will sit motionless on the nest while an intruder paces around nearby. After finding myself so close to the nest, I backed off a ways before taking any pictures. I’ve read that a nesting woodcock will sometimes allow a person to stroke its back without fleeing the nest. There are also accounts of Woodcock abandoning their nests after being disturbed. I probably cause enough unintentional disturbance to local wildlife. I would like to have seen her eggs, but I wouldn’t deliberately flush her because of that.
Nesting Woodcocks are nearly impossible to see from a distance. In the above photo, the female Woodcock is centered in the frame, just to the left of the small tree.
She is even hard to find in a close up shot, if you don’t know where to look.
Zoom in even more and put her in the center of the photo, and then she’s easy to find.
I checked on her again Sunday and found that she had turned to face away from the little tree. Incubation takes about three weeks, so these eggs should hatch before the end of the month. Click HERE to see photos of a recently hatched Woodcock chick that I found a couple of years ago.