Last evening, just after sundown, one of my Maltese dogs started barking furiously at something behind the garage. He looked like he was about to attack it. (For those of you who have only seen Maltese Show dogs on TV, they are one of the oldest known breeds, carried on ships by the Phoenicians and later the Maltese as effective rat-killers. They are lightning fast and can jump very high, so a short-cropped Maltese dog can easily kill a fairly large rodent, or in this case, a bird).
I called him off and hustled out there---to find a large woodcock doing what woodcock do when threatened--staying perfectly still and depending on their amazing camouflage to protect them. Unfortunately, their scent is not camouflaged. I moved all three dogs into the house and approached close enough to see that it appeared uninjured, and since it was about three feet from my grass clipping compost bin, which is full of earthworms (a Woodcock banquet)--earthworms are their preferred food. They have a beak that is fixed at the back with a movable tip to help them root out worms in the soft soil they frequent), I decided that was why it had paused in my backyard on its migration back up north. Woodcock tend to fly at night, so I told the bird "No one is going to hurt you--enjoy your feast."
I just left it alone, went out this morning to see it had moved on. It's probably gone across Lake Erie into Canada by now.
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