Eurasian woodcock

   ›      ›   Eurasian woodcock - Scolopax rusticola

The Eurasian woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) is a medium-sized wading bird, belonging to the family of sandpipers, curlews and woodcocks, Scolopacidae.

The Eurasian woodcock species are distributed in Indian subcontinent, Europe, Central Asia, southeast Asia and northern Africa. These woodcock species are susceptible to avian influenza. These woodcocks are monotypic species.

Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Eurasian Woodcock Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Eurasian woodcock - Overview

  • Scientific name: Scolopax rusticola
  • Species author: Linnaeus, 1758
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Scolopax Rusticola Linnaeus, 1758
  • Family: Scolopacidae › Charadriiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Eurasian woodcock, Chinese: 丘鹬, French: Bécasse des bois, German: Waldschnepfe, Spanish: Chocha perdiz, Russian: Вальдшнеп, Japanese: ヤマシギ, Malay: Berkek Besar, Tamil: Malai Mookkan
  • Other names: European Woodcock
  • Distribution: Europe, Asia and north Africa
  • Diet and feeding habits: insects, earthworm, larvae
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
The Eurasian woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) is closely related to Amami woodcock (Scolopax mira).

Appearance, physical description and identification

The Eurasian woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) is a medium-sized woodcock, measuring 30 to 35 cm in length and weighing 130 to 420 grams. The wingspan is 55 to 60 cm.

The upperparts of the Eurasian woodcock are intricately patterned reddish-brown. The underparts are buff-brown. The crown region has thick dark brown bars. The eyes are located high on the sides of its head. The bill is long and straight. The bill is flesh colored at the base and blackish at the tip. Their call is a loud, "orr, orr, orr" sound.
Indian birds - Picture of Eurasian woodcock - Scolopax rusticola
Birds of India - Image of Eurasian woodcock - Scolopax rusticola by Ronald Slabke

Birds of India - Photo of Eurasian woodcock - Scolopax rusticola
Indian birds - Picture of Eurasian woodcock - Scolopax rusticola by Jason Thompson

Indian birds - Image of Eurasian woodcock - Scolopax rusticola
Birds of India - Photo of Eurasian woodcock - Scolopax rusticola by JJ Harrison

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The Eurasian woodcock species are distributed in Indian subcontinent, Europe, Central Asia, southeast Asia and northern Africa.

In India, the wintering birds are distributed in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura and Mizoram.

Ecosystem and habitat

These Eurasian woodcock species have moderate forest dependency. These species occur in altitudes from 0 to 2500 meters.

The artificial ecosystem of these Eurasian woodcock species includes cultivated land and plantations. The natural ecosystems of these woodcock species includes boreal forests, temperate forests, shrublands and tropical and subtropical moist forests.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these Eurasian woodcock species is mostly earthworms. Insects and their larvae, freshwater molluscs, spiders, slugs, leaches, ribbon worms, plant seeds, grains, fruits, grass roots and leaves are their primary food. They probe the ground with their long sensitive bill to find food.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of the Eurasian woodcock species starts from March in much of its breeding range. The male birds performs courtship display flights at dusk. They prefer the nesting sites containing dense undergrowth and ground cover.

The nest is a shallow cup like depression in the ground lined with dead leaves and other plant material. The typical clutch of the Eurasian woodcock contains four white or creamy eggs with light brown and gray spotting.

The female incubates the eggs for about 24 days. The hatchlings have downy feathers. The chicks are precocial and leave the nest immediately, following the mother. They fledge after 15–20 days. It is believed that the mother woodcock can fly carrying the chicks between her legs, body and tail when threatened.

Migration and movement patterns

The Eurasian woodcock species are partially migratory birds.

The Eurasian woodcock populations in northern Europe, northern Russia, northern Mongolia, northwest China and north Japan are migratory and migrate to southern Europe, the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia or northern Africa for wintering. They leave the breeding grounds on the approach of winter and return back in early summer.

The Eurasian woodcock populations in western European countries and in Atlantic islands off the northwest African coast are sedentary and resident. The birds residing in Himalayas make altitudinal migration, moving to foothills during the winter.

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the Eurasian woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) is estimated to be around 10,000,000 to 26,000,000 individual birds. The overall population trend of these woodcock species is considered to be stable. Throughout its range it is reported to be common to very common. The generation length is 6.3 years. Their distribution size is about 49,000,000

The Eurasian woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable, either under the range size criterion, or under the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion. Agricultural expansion, habitat fragmentation, loss of soil fauna due to use of agricultural chemicals, susceptibility to avian influenza and hunting pressure are the main threats that may endanger the survival of these woodcock species.

IUCN and CITES status

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the woodcock species and has listed it as of "Least Concern". The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for the Eurasian woodcock (Scolopax rusticola).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Scolopax rusticola
Species:S. rusticola
Binomial name:Scolopax rusticola
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
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1.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Ronald Slabke | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
2.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Jason Thompson | License: CC BY 2.0 as on 4/13/17
3.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: JJ Harrison ( | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
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