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.
Greg Hoch works for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. He currently lives near Cambridge, Minnesota, where he regularly sees woodcock, ruffed grouse, and golden-winged warblers.
""Few species can capture the imagination as well as the woodcock," Hoch writes here. You will get no argument from me. If you’d like to find out why, Sky Dance of the Woodcock may be the best way to do so."
– Grant McCreary (27-07-2020), read the full review at The Birder's Library
"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