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Conservation status: Red

The woodcock is a large bulky wading bird with short legs, and a very long straight tapering bill. It is largely nocturnal, spending most of the day in dense cover. Most of the birds in the UK are residents; in the autumn birds move to the UK from Finland and Russia to winter here. The breeding population has been falling recent years, perhaps because of less habitat as conifer plantations become too mature for woodcocks to find open enough breeding areas.



Latin name

Scolopax rusticola


Sandpipers and allies (Scolopacidae)

Where to see them

It can be found in suitable habitat in summer throughout the UK, except for south-west England. In winter, birds are widespread in lowland areas. You would be very lucky to see one, but you may inadvertently disturb one from its resting place, when it flies off, zigzagging between the trees and dropping back into cover.

When to see them

All year round

What they eat

Worms, beetles, spiders, caterpillars, fly larvae and small snails.


EuropeUK breeding*UK wintering*UK passage*
-55,241 pairs1.4 million birds-




Tomas Belka, Xeno-canto

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