Photo: Fred Cohen Photography Woodcocks can be difficult to rehabilitate. Two-thirds of them die from their injuries as soon as they are brought in, and the others stress easily as they are unaccustomed to human contact. They rarely eat on their own, so they must be tube fed six times a day just to maintain their weight. If they are too stressed, they even throw up that food, raising the risk of getting fluid in the lungs and contracting pneumonia.
Our woodcock did fine. He had not sustained any long-term head injuries, and his eye healed right up. Because they leap straight in the air to avoid predators, we keep our Woodcocks in a separate room dotted with branches and boxes to hide in. Our patient spent his days wandering around freely, eating mealworms from a tray filled with soil, probing the earth with his long beak.
Like all bird species, Woodcocks have distinct personalities, and they are well known for being anti-social-they show little interest in their surroundings-which makes for a great release. Once our patient was rehabilitated he was taken to a wooded area of Central Park and left to walk out of his brown paper bag on his own.