Wildlife and Hunting – Eurasian Woodcock stamp from Austria

May 20th, 2014

This time the Austrian issue from the series Wildlife and Hunting is presented by the stamp featuring the Eurasian Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola).

The Eurasian Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) is a medium-small wading bird found in temperate and subarctic Eurasia. It has cryptic camouflage to suit its woodland habitat, with reddish-brown upperparts and buff-coloured underparts. Its eyes are set far back on its head to give it 360-degree vision and it probes in the ground for food with its long, sensitive bill, making it vulnerable to cold weather when the ground remains frozen.

The male performs a courtship flight known as "roding" at dusk in spring. When threatened, the female can carry chicks between her legs, in her claws or on her back while flying, though this is rarely witnessed. The world population is estimated to be 14 million to 16 million birds.

In many countries woodcock are hunted as game, and their size, speed and flight pattern makes them a very challenging shot. Anyone shooting a witnessed "right and left" - in which two Woodcock are killed with consecutive shots from a shotgun, without the gun being lowered or reloaded - can be admitted to the Shooting Times Woodcock Club.