AskDefine | Define woodcock

The Collaborative Dictionary

Pileate \Pi"le*ate\, Pileated \Pi"le*a`ted\, a. [L. pileatus, fr. pileus a felt cap or hat.]
Having the form of a cap for the head. [1913 Webster]
(Zool.) Having a crest covering the pileus, or whole top of the head. [1913 Webster] Pileated woodpecker (Zool.), a large American woodpecker (Ceophloeus pileatus). It is black, with a bright red pointed crest. Called also logcock, and woodcock. [1913 Webster]
Woodcock \Wood"cock`\, n. [AS. wuducoc.] [1913 Webster]
(Zool.) Any one of several species of long-billed limicoline birds belonging to the genera Scolopax and Philohela. They are mostly nocturnal in their habits, and are highly esteemed as game birds. [1913 Webster] Note: The most important species are the European (Scolopax rusticola) and the American woodcock (Philohela minor), which agree very closely in appearance and habits. [1913 Webster]
Fig.: A simpleton. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] If I loved you not, I would laugh at you, and see you Run your neck into the noose, and cry, "A woodcock!" --Beau. & Fl. [1913 Webster] Little woodcock. (a) The common American snipe. (b) The European snipe. Sea woodcock fish, the bellows fish. Woodcock owl, the short-eared owl (Asio brachyotus). Woodcock shell, the shell of certain mollusks of the genus Murex, having a very long canal, with or without spines. Woodcock snipe. See under Snipe. [1913 Webster]

Word Net

woodcock n : game bird of the sandpiper family that resembles a snipe



  1. Any of various wading birds in the genus Scolopax, characterised by a long slender bill and cryptic brown and blackish plumage.


The woodcocks are a group of seven extant very similar wading bird species in the genus Scolopax, characterised by a long slender bill and cryptic brown and blackish plumage. Only two woodcocks are widespread, the others being localised island species. Their closest relatives are the typical snipes of the genus Gallinago (Thomas et al., 2004).
These are woodland birds which feed at night or in the evenings, searching for invertebrates in soft ground with their long bills. Unlike in most birds the tip of the upper mandible is flexible. This habit and their unobtrusive plumage makes it difficult to see them when they are resting in the day. The tiny feathers that are located at the first joint of the woodcock's wings are referred to as "pin feathers" and these are much sought after by artists for fine painting work.
Most have distinctive displays, usually given at dawn or dusk. These are birds with stocky bodies and long bills. They have eyes set on the sides of their heads, which gives them almost 360° vision.
A number of woodcocks have become extinct long ago and are known only from fossil or subfossil bones. Due to their close relationship to the Gallinago snipes, the woodcocks are a fairly young group of birds, even considering that the Charadriiformes themselves are an ancient lineage. Gallinago and Scolopax diverged probably around the Late Miocene, some 10-5 mya.
  • "Scolopax baranensis" (fossil, Early Pliocene of Hungary) - a nomen nudum
  • Scolopax carmesinae (fossil, Early/Middle Pliocene? of Menorca, Mediterranean)
  • Scolopax hutchensi (fossil, Late Pliocene - Early Pleistocene of Florida, USA)
  • Puerto Rican Woodcock, Scolopax anthonyi (prehistoric)


  • Hayman, Marchant and Prater, Shorebirds ISBN 0-873403-19-4
  • McKelvie, Colin Laurie : Woodcock and Snipe: Conservation and Sport (Swan Hill, 1993)
  • Thomas, Gavin H.; Wills, Matthew A. & Székely, Tamás (2004): A supertree approach to shorebird phylogeny. BMC Evol. Biol. 4: 28. PDF fulltext Supplementary Material
woodcock in Esperanto: Skolopo
woodcock in French: Bécasse
woodcock in Ido: Bekaso
woodcock in Italian: Beccaccia
woodcock in Polish: Słonki (ptaki)
woodcock in Russian: Вальдшнепы
woodcock in Serbian: Шљука
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