WOODCOCK (AS. tritdueoc, from wtolu, wood + coo, cock). The popular name of certain birds closely related to the snipes (q.v.), but of more bulky form and having shorter and stronger legs. The common woodcock of the I lid World I 8coto pax rusticola), well known as a game-bird in Great Britain, and highly esteemed as a delicacy for the table, is found also in all parts of Europe and the north of Asia, and in Japan. Its sum mer haunts are chiefly the northern pine-forests, and in winter it is chiefly to be found in moist woods and swamps, seeking for worms, snails, and slugs as food, boring with its long, bill in the soft ground. The quantity of food which it de vours is very great; a single woodcock has been known to consume in a night more earth-worms than half filled a garden pot of moderate size. The woodcock is about 13 inches in length ; the upper parts varied with ruddy, yellowish, and ash color, finely intermingled, and marked by large black spots, the lower parts yellowish red, with zigzag lines: the quill-feathers striped with red and black on the edge; the tail-feathers tipped with gray above and white below. The
female is rather stouter and larger than the male, and sometimes attains a weight of 14 or 15 ounces. The woodcock makes its nest in warm, dry situations, on the ground, of dead leaves loosely laid together. It lays only three or four eggs of a pale yellowish or reddish brown color.
The American woodcock (Philohcla minor) is a smaller bird than the woodcock of Europe, being only about 11 inches long, but is very simi lar in plumage and habits. Three transverse black hands mark the hinder part of the head. It is found in all parts of North America, east of Colorado, and, though migratory in the north. is resident in the south. The eggs differ from those of the European species in being spotted. This is by many regarded as the foremost. game bird of America. Its flight is erratic and very swift, so that woodcock-shooting requires much skill; and the flesh is in high repute. The re sult is that in many parts of the country it has become very scarce. See Plate of BEACH BIRDS.