Woodcock are one of the oddest birds in North America. They are a shorebird that got lost and ended up in the scrubby parts of the forest, and look like they were put together with the leftover parts of other birds. Oddities aside, each spring they rise to great beauty with their sky dance at dusk. 

Greg Hoch combines natural history, land management, scientific knowledge, and personal observation to examine this little game bird. Woodcock have a complex life history and the management of their habitat is also complex. The health of this bird can be considered a key indicator of what good forests look like.

Sky Dance of the Woodcock is a marvel to read. . . . blending science, history and folklore. Don’t get it if you want another how-to hunting “timberdoodles” or choosing a bird gun. Do get it if you want to learn about one of the most fascinating birds in North America. It’s fascinating and delightful, like the reclusive bird it describes.”—Shooting Sportsman

“The American woodcock is the rare animal that both ignites the imagination and inspires rational study. ‘Without both, any story about this little bird would only be partially told,’ writes Greg Hoch. Seasoning the text with passion-fueled literary passages as well as scientific findings, Hoch masterfully delivers the complete story.”—Tom Carney, author, Among the Aspens: Stolen Moments in Secret Coverts

“Woodcocks are the masters of camouflage, but there is so much more to this curious bird, as the readers of this book will learn. Sky Dance of the Woodcock describes in fascinating detail the natural history of this ‘woodland shorebird’ along with the challenges it faces in a world of diminishing wild places.”—Mark Madsen, former president, Bur Oak Land Trust 

“Whether you are a bird lover or an upland hunter, for anyone who is a devotee of the migratory American woodcock, as I have been for more than half a century, Greg Hoch’s thoughtful, informative book is an indispensable source on the history, science, ecology, and lore of this marvelous and mysterious bird. It is a delightful, must-read book that sums up the best that has been written on woodcock over the decades.”—Robert DeMott, coeditor, Afield: American Writers on Bird Dogs 

“As a trained biologist, I thought I knew about the timberdoodle, but this book informed me that there is so much more to learn. From its in-depth description of woodcock natural history to management considerations, I really appreciated the historical context often contrasted with our current understanding of this bog-loving bird.”—Brian Winter, president, Minnesota Prairie Chicken Society

“While much has been written about the American woodcock, both in the context of biology and romantically, the two sides of this equation rarely balance. . . . ‘Motive power plus mystery equals woodcock,’ is the last sentence in Sky Dance of the Woodcock. In my view, that sentence and this book balance the equation as well as it has ever been balanced.”—Ruffed Grouse Society Magazine

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Publication Details

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13 b&w photos, 6 figures