Submitted by Bobbie Sladky; Photo by Andrea Kaminski
A group of nine Rotarians and guests met at the UW Arboretum Visitor Center for a hike on April 24 for an evening bird sighting. The goal was to observe the courting behavior of the male woodcock. Guide Levi Wood provided information about the rich conservation history of the UW Arboretum and a tour of the Longenecker Gardens which showcases a collection of trees and shrubs. The Magnolia collection was in full bloom and the early lilacs were opening.
We were pleased to see the Oak planted by Paul Harris and saw turkeys and a red-tail hawk nearby. The hike included a walk through Gallistel and a brief stop at Teal Pond. Curtis Prairie provided the zen-like experience of hearing the courting sounds of the male woodcock who becomes active at dusk. Although the bird was never seen, its presence was clear by the loud, nasal peent calls made on the ground, the twittering sounds made by the wings as the woodcock rises up 100’ or more in an aerial display, the call made at the ‘top’ of the flight, and steep dive back down to the prairie. The Audubon website refers to this behavior as a ‘sky dance’. Female woodcocks are attracted by the ‘lek’ of males performing their rituals and have an opportunity to select the fittest mate.