RODING AND THE WOODCOCK’S MATING CYCLE
RODING: Male Woodcock repeatedly fly a circular or oval circuit through a prescribed section of woodland. The deliberately slow flight is accompanied by clear vocalisation. TERRITORY: The roding circuits establish territory, although some overlap is tolerated between males. If a male is killed, another will often adopt the exact route within days. COMPETITION: In-flight interaction between two or more birds can often be purely between males – with one attempting to chase the other(s) from his circuit. CONTACT: Females, whose attention has been secured via the roding, will briefly join the males in flight. PURSUIT: Aerial interaction follows, with the male chasing the female and emitting high-pitched squeaking ‘pip-pip-pips’. DESCENT: The pair will descend to an already-built nest, or will construct one before mating begins. REPEAT: Females produce a clutch of four eggs, and mating must occur each time for an egg to be fertilised. ON THE RODE AGAIN: Males play no part in incubating the eggs, and will then continue the roding in order to mate with other females. This helps mitigate the high level of predation Woodcocks suffer.