ROD­ING AND THE WOOD­COCK’S MAT­ING CY­CLE

Bird Watching (UK) - - Species Woodcock -

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.

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