Haha! Watch this woodcock do his “woodcock shuffle” to the sound of some weird organ music. It is the perfect marriage of music to strange animal behavior.
This timberdoodle engages in his quirky dance as it searches for tasty morsels under the ground. Bobbing up and down as it probes the earth with its long bill, it periodically finds a bug or delicious worm startled by the weird dance of the woodcock.
It is thought that the unusual dance triggers the movement of worms in the soil. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology states,
The bird walks slowly and sometimes rocks its body back and forth, stepping heavily with its front foot. This action may make worms move around in the soil, increasing their detectability.
In any case, it is a highly comical behavior, and one that Michael Furtman took advantage of in making his mesmerizing video. The music Furtman added to the video of the little “bog sucker” bobbing up and down as it walked along looking for morsels is perfect.
Notice how the woodcock periodically stops and checks the ground with its bill. Then how it commits and stabs into the earth once it senses that something is there.
Interestingly, and adding to the strange appearance of the woodcock, is the fact that their eyes are situated far back and high on their little heads. This gives them possibly the largest visual field of any bird, “360° in the horizontal plane and 180° in the vertical plane”.
The arrangement of their eyes gives them the unusual ability to see behind and above them, whether they are sitting or searching for food. As they probe into the earth for invertebrates, they are able to see above them for signs of danger, making them extremely difficult to surprise.
Which may also be why they take the time to dance so flamboyantly.