The Story of the American Woodcock that captured Wheaton’s Heart (or maybe just mine)

Birds About Town: an occasional column 

If you have ever been out at night walking by parking lot 4 or if you are living (or trying to sleep) in Meadows, you have probably heard a strange noise. This noise comes from the American Woodcock who lives near the basketball courts. He has probably gotten your attention by his mating call, known as peenting, and although some might find his peenting annoying, I was entranced by it—so much so that I made it my mission to find the little fucker. 

After watching many Instagram reels and YouTube shorts, I felt like I had the necessary research to find him. I set out before nightfall so I could try and get comfortable before the long wait to hear that wonderful peenting. I walked over to where I thought I heard the calls the nights before (the outdoor basketball courts), and I patiently waited to hear that sweet, sweet sound. I found myself laying on the ground belly down, butt up, looking into the deep thicket where the Woodcock takes a dirty, wet, and sticky territory and makes it a home.  Eventually, I heard the peent and realized “this is the best night of my life.” He wasn’t too hard to find with his loud ass noise, and once I found him I couldn’t stop watching him. 

The Woodcock is about the size of a Mr. Potato Head, with a beak as long and the shape of a 2-week-old number 2 Ticonderoga pencil. It also has twig-like legs. Although I did not see those little twigs get to work, the Woodcock is known to have great dance moves that it uses to hunt earthworms. This bird proves it’s not the size of the bird that matters but the motion that does. If I were a female Woodcock his peent would have me in a frenzy—his mating call takes so much force to make that he almost falls over just to make it. Although his peent is enough to impress just about anyone, he’s got a lot more in his bag. I was lucky enough to see him do a display flight, where the Woodcock flies and makes a musical twittering with some sort of liquid it produces and its wings. 

Although these matting calls have me flocking over and mesmerized by his noise, I think I am the only one he is attracting, as I have yet to see a female Woodcock lured by his peenting or footwork.

This is why I felt compelled to write this to give Wheaton campus notice and try to help him out. He is lonely and looking for love, he probably thinks that every Woodcock hates him and wants him to die alone. Of course, I don’t know his background and he might be a jerk, but from what I have seen up close he seems like a chill guy. So, the next time when you hear his peenting maybe don’t think “omg that dumbass bird is so annoying” or “that bird is always talking at night, he needs to shut up.” Maybe think “omg Pepper (that’s what I named him) is shooting his shot and trying to find love” or “that tiny Woodcock is trying his hardest not to be lonely, maybe he will find his soulmate tonight.” In conclusion, don’t be mad at this little bird instead, go watch him from a safe distance to not stress him out and hope he finds love soon. I sure hope he does.