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Eurasian Woodcock Scolopax rusticola
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Distribution and population
This species has a large global population estimated to be 15,000,000-16,000,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2002).

Population justification
The global population is estimated to number c.10,000,000-26,000,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006).

Trend justification
The overall population trend is stable, although some populations have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006).

Behaviour The species is sedentary on Atlantic islands (Hayman et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996) and in some areas in south-western maritime countries (Snow and Perrins 1998) but is otherwise strongly migratory (Hayman et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996). The spring migration starts at the end of February (Ferrand et al. in prep) (the timing of this movement being closely related to temperature), with the species arriving on the breeding grounds between March and mid-May. In Europe, the species breeds from the end of February to July (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The autumn migration to the wintering grounds is largely governed by the timing of the first winter frosts (e.g. from October to November) (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species is typically solitary and usually migrates singly or in groups of 5-6 (Snow and Perrins 1998). Individuals may also become aggregated by topography or weather conditions, especially when migrating overland or where food and shelter are restricted (Snow and Perrins 1998). It typically forages nocturnally during the winter (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Habitat The distribution of earthworms is an important habitat characteristic for the species throughout the year (Johnsgard 1981). Breeding For breeding the species requires extensive unfragmented areas (Hayman et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996) of broadleaved deciduous or mixed broadleaved/coniferous forest (Johnsgard 1981) containing a dense undergrowth of shrubs and ground cover (Lutz and Pagh Jensen in prep) (e.g. of brambles Rubus spp., holly Ilex aquifolium, hazel Corylus avellana, gorse Ulex spp., bracken Pteridium spp. or bilberry Vaccinium myrtillus) (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Lutz and Pagh Jensen in prep) and with a mosaic (del Hoyo et al. 1996) of dry, warm resting places, moist areas for foraging (Johnsgard 1981, Hayman et al. 1986) (e.g. streams, springs or damp, swampy patches) (del Hoyo et al. 1996), and clearings or other open areas as flight paths (Johnsgard 1981, Hayman et al. 1986). The species may also nest in swampy forests with mossy ground, brooks and other watercourses or alternatively in coniferous forest with moist leaf litter and an undergrowth of broadleaved shrubs and ferns (Johnsgard 1981). Non-breeding The species's habitats requirements during the daylight hours of the non-breeding season are similar to its breeding habitat requirements but are less restricted (del Hoyo et al. 1996). As well as extensive broadleaved or mixed broadleaved/coniferous forest (Johnsgard 1981) the species will also occupy young conifer plantations (del Hoyo et al. 1996), hedges with high densities of trees and shrubs (Duriez et al. 2005b), smaller woods, areas of scrub (Hayman et al. 1986) and coppiced habitats with coppice of between 7 and 20 years old (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It still shows a strong preference for woodlands with rich (e.g. mull) humus types that have high earthworm biomasses, and a dense shrub strata however (Duriez et al. 2005b). At night during this season the species gathers to roost and feed in damp, earthworm-rich, permanent grasslands (Hayman et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996, Duriez et al. 2005b) sometimes 3-4 km away from woodland areas used for cover during the day (Hayman et al. 1986), showing a preference for grazed meadows compared to cultivated fields (as the latter contain higher earthworm biomasses) (Duriez et al. 2005b). The species may also feed on intertidal mud during freezing weather (Hayman et al. 1986). Diet Its diet consists predominantly of earthworms, especially during the non-breeding season (del Hoyo et al. 1996), but the species may also take adult and larval insects (e.g. beetles, earwigs and millipedes), spiders, slugs, leaches, ribbon

Breeding The most significant threat to the species in its breeding range is the increased fragmentation of woodlands (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Non-breeding Outside of the breeding season the species is threatened by the disappearance of permanent grasslands (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and through the intensification of agricultural practices (e.g. the destruction of hedges, decreases in the number of permanent grazed meadows and the impoverishment of soil fauna as a result of ploughing and chemical application) (Duriez et al. 2005b). The species is also susceptible to avian influenza (both in its breeding and wintering range) so may be threatened by future outbreaks of the viurs (Melville and Shortridge 2006). The species is widely hunted, with the largest numbers taken in France, Italy, UK and Spain.

Bauthian, I. 2005. Dynamiques spatiales des espèces d’intérêt cynégétique. L’apport des modèles de dynamique des populations. Ecologie, Université Paris.

Bauthian, I.; Iljinsky, I .; Fokin, S.; Julliard, R.; Gossmann, F.; Ferrand, Y. 2006. Survival rates of Russian Woodcocks. International Wader Studies 11: 61-64.

Blokhin, Y. Y.; Mezhnev, A. P.; Fokin, S. Y. 2006. Woodcock hunting bag statistics in Russia since 1996. International Wader Studies 11.

Brazil, M. 2009. Birds of East Asia: eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, eastern Russia. Christopher Helm, London.

Bregnballe, T.; Noer, H.; Christensen, T. K.; Clausen, P.; Asferg, T.; Fox, A. D.; Delany, S. 2006. Sustainable hunting of migratory waterbirds: the Danish approach. In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 854-860. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, UK.

Clausager, I. 2006. Wing survey of Woodcock and Snipe in Denmark. International Wader Studies 11: 106-112.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Delany, S.; Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Duriez, O.; Eraud, C.; Barbraud, C.; Ferrand, Y. 2005. Factors affecting population dynamics of Eurasian woodcocks wintering in France: assessing the efficiency of a hunting-free reserve. Biological Conservation 122(1): 89-97.

Duriez, O.; Ferrand, Y.; Binet, F.; Corda, E.; Gossmann, F.; Fritz, H. 2005. Habitat selection of the Eurasian woodcock in winter in relation to earthworms availability. 122(3): 479-490.

Ferrand Y.; Aubry P.; Landry P.; Priol P. in prep. Behavioural responses of human disturbance on wintering European Woodcock.

Ferrand, Y.; Aubry, P.; Gossmann, F.; Bastat, C.; Guénézan, M. 2006. Monitoring of the European Woodcock populations, with special reference to France. Communications of the 10th American Woodcock Symposium, Roscommon, Michigan.

Ferrand, Y.; Gossmann, F. 2001. Elements for a Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) management plan. Game and Wildlife Science 18(1): 115-139.

Hayman, P.; Marchant, J.; Prater, A. J. 1986. Shorebirds. Croom Helm, London.

Hoodless, A.; Lang, D.; Fuller, R. J.; Aebischer, N.; Ewald, J. 2006. Development of a survey method for breeding woodcock and its application to assessing the status of the British population. International Wader Studies.

Hüppop, O.; Hüppop, K. 2003. North Atlantic Oscillation and timing of spring migration in birds. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B 270: 233-240.

IUCN. 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2012.1). Available at: (Accessed: 19 June 2012).

Johnsgard, P. A. 1981. The plovers, sandpipers and snipes of the world. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, U.S.A. and London.

Lutz, M.; Pagh Jensen, F. in prep. European management plan for Woodcock Scolopax rusticola 2006-2009 (Draft).

Melville, D. S.; Shortridge, K. F. 2006. Migratory waterbirds and avian influenza in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway with particular reference to the 2003-2004 H5N1 outbreak. In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 432-438. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, UK.

Snow, D. W.; Perrins, C. M. 1998. The Birds of the Western Palearctic vol. 1: Non-Passerines. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Vahatalo, A. V.; Rainio, K.; Lehikoinen, A.; Lehikoinen, E. 2004. Spring arrival of birds depends on the North Atlantic Oscillation. Journal of Avian Biology 35: 210-216.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Malpas, L. & Symes, A.

Ferrand, Y.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Scolopax rusticola. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Scolopacidae (Sandpipers, Snipes, Phalaropes)
Species name author Linnaeus, 1758
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Stable
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 15,100,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- 2015 European Red List assessment