Bukidnon woodcock (Scolopax bukidnonensis)
|Also known as:||Philippine woodcock|
|Size||Length: 30.1 - 34.3 cm (2)|
|Weight||193 - 310 g (2)|
- The Bukidnon woodcock was first described as a new species in 2001.
- The brown, mottled plumage of the Bukidnon woodcock gives it excellent camouflage against leaf litter on the forest floor.
- Male Bukidnon woodcocks perform a conspicuous ‘roding’ display, flying in a regular circuit at dawn and dusk while calling loudly.
- The tip of the Bukidnon woodcock’s bill is well supplied with nerve endings, helping the bird locate its prey by touch as it probes in soil.
The Bukidnon woodcock is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).
Also known as the Philippine woodcock (3), the Bukidnon woodcock (Scolopax bukidnonensis) was first described as a new species in 2001. Although it had been sighted and specimens had been collected before this, the Bukidnon woodcock had previously been misidentified as its close relative, the Eurasian woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) (2).
The Bukidnon woodcock is a relatively large, plump wading bird (4) with short legs and a long, straight bill (4) (5) (6). As in other woodcock species, its eyes are set quite high on its head (5) (6), giving the Bukidnon woodcock a 360-degree field of vision (5). The wings of this species are rounded (4) and its tail is somewhat wedge shaped (7).
The brown, mottled plumage of the Bukidnon woodcock gives it excellent camouflage against leaf litter on the forest floor (6). Its back and shoulders are largely dark brown, mottled with buff and dark reddish-brown, and two pale, parallel lines run down its back. The Bukidnon woodcock’s lower back and rump are indistinctly barred with dark brown, tan and reddish-brown, while its tail is blackish with reddish-brown notches, narrow brown bars and a silvery-grey tip. This species’ face and chin are buff-coloured, with blackish-brown lores and a blackish-brown stripe on the cheek. The top of the head and back of the neck are brown and marked with four broad blackish bars, which are edged with reddish-brown (2) (4).
The wings of the Bukidnon woodcock are dark brown with both pale and dark reddish-brown notches, while the undersides of the wings are blackish-brown with lighter spots and bars. The underside of the Bukidnon woodcock’s body is a cinnamon-buff colour with fine dark brown barring, and there is a broad, vertical, blackish bar on each side of the bird’s breast (2) (4).
The Bukidnon woodcock has brown eyes, with a blackish- or greyish-brown ring of skin around each eye. The long bill is a greyish-brown to horn colour, and the woodcock’s legs and feet are grey (2) (4). The male and female Bukidnon woodcock are similar in appearance (4), although the female may have slightly duller plumage, as well as narrower bars on the underparts (2).
Although similar in appearance to the Eurasian woodcock (S. rusticola), the Bukidnon woodcock is darker overall and has less distinct markings on its underparts (2) (4). Bukidnon woodcocks from the Babuyan Islands in the northern Philippines are reported to have slightly different patterning and markings to those on the island of Mindanao, and it has been suggested that they may be a separate subspecies (7) (8).
The male Bukidnon woodcock gives a loud, distinctive call during its flight displays. Known as a ‘roding’ call, this consists of four to six hard, metallic, rattling phrases which are interspersed with quieter, lower-pitched growling or grunting phrases (2).
The Bukidnon woodcock occurs in the Philippines, where it was originally described from central and northern Luzon and from four mountains in Mindanao (2). In 2004, the species was also discovered in the Babuyan Islands, in the northern Philippines (7) (8), and its range may potentially extend further to other mountainous Philippine islands (2).
The common and scientific names of the Bukidnon woodcock come from a collective name for all the local human tribes inhabiting the Mount Kitanglad Range in the Province of Bukidnon, Mindanao, with ‘bukidnon’ meaning ‘of the mountain’ (2).
The Bukidnon woodcock occurs in montane forest, montane mossy forest and adjacent clearings. This species usually occurs above elevations of 1,000 metres (2) (4).
Unusually for a wading bird (a member of the order Charadriiformes), the Bukidnon woodcock is generally solitary (4) (6). Individuals rest on a dry patch of ground during the day, remaining very still and relying on their camouflage to conceal them (6). If disturbed, the Bukidnon woodcock may fly up with a loud whirring of its wings and then fly off rapidly and skilfully through the trees (4) (6).
Like other woodcocks, the Bukidnon woodcock is likely to feed at dawn and dusk, probing the ground for prey with its long bill. The tip of a woodcock’s bill is well supplied with nerve endings, and these birds are thought to locate their prey by touch. Little information is available on the diet of the Bukidnon woodcock, but like other woodcocks it is likely to feed on earthworms, insects and their larvae, and other invertebrates (6).
The Bukidnon woodcock is most easily seen when performing its conspicuous ‘roding’ display. As in other woodcocks, this prominent display takes place at dusk and dawn, when the male woodcock emerges from the forest and flies around just above the treetops or around a clearing, following a circular route and giving its loud, distinctive roding call (2) (4) (6). In the Bukidnon woodcock, the roding flight typically takes place about 10 to 20 metres above the ground, and the route is thought to encompass an individual bird’s territory. The roding bird usually flies with fluttery wing beats and sometimes dangles its legs beneath its body (2).
Relatively little is currently known about the breeding behaviour of the Bukidnon woodcock. However, roding displays have been observed between January and March, as well as in May (4), and individuals of this species collected in January, April and September appeared to be in breeding condition. On Mindanao, a nest with two nestlings has been found in September, with the nest consisting of a slight depression in moss on the ground, with a layer of grass and ferns (2) (4). On the Babuyan Islands, the Bukidnon woodcock has been reported to breed in March, April and May (7) (8).
Like other woodcock species, the Bukidnon woodcock is likely to feed its young while they are small. This behaviour is unusual among wading birds, as young waders are usually capable of feeding themselves soon after hatching (5).
Although previously overlooked because of its nocturnal habits and its similarity to other woodcock species (2), the Bukidnon woodcock is believed to be locally common within its range, and is not currently thought to be at risk of extinction (2) (3). Now that the calls, behaviour and habitat of this recently described species are known, it is likely that it will also be discovered on other mountains in the region (2).
On the Babuyan Islands, illegal logging, slash-and-burn agriculture, hunting and the expansion of road networks have been identified as potential threats to wildlife (8). Hunting and the conversion of forest to agricultural land have also been cited as potential threats to birds, including the Bukidnon woodcock, on the Mount Kimangkil Range in Mindanao (9). However, although many lowland areas in the Philippines have experienced deforestation, the Bukidnon woodcock typically occurs above elevations of 1,000 metres, where its forest habitat is still reasonably intact. This species generally occurs in quite rugged terrain which is not suitable for farming and which does not contain many commercially valuable trees, giving the Bukidnon woodcock and its habitat some protection (2).
There are no specific conservation measures currently known to be in place for the Bukidnon woodcock. However, on the Babuyan Islands it may benefit from a number of general conservation initiatives, including education programmes and ordinances which have been passed to control slash-and-burn agriculture. There is also a strong awareness among local people of the need to conserve the islands’ important biodiversity, and part of the island group may be declared as a protected area by the Philippine government (8).
Find out more about the Bukidnon woodcock:
BirdLife International - Bukidnon woodcock:
More information on conservation in the Philippines:
Conservation International - Philippines:
Wildlife Conservation Society of the Philippines:
Learn more about newly discovered species on ARKive:
ARKive - Newly discovered species:
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- Biodiversity: short for biological diversity, biodiversity is a term used to define the great diversity of life on earth, or more specifically, in a particular habitat or ecosystem.
- Invertebrates: animals with no backbone, such as insects, crustaceans, worms, molluscs, spiders, cnidarians (jellyfish, corals, sea anemones) and echinoderms.
- Larvae: stage in an animal’s lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
- Lores: the space between a bird’s bill and eyes.
- Montane forest: forest occurring in mountains.
- Montane mossy forest: a type of forest which occurs in mountains and typically has a high level of cloud cover throughout the year, leading to an abundance of mosses covering the ground and vegetation.
- Nocturnal: active at night.
- Order: a category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘class’ and above ‘family’. All members of an order have characteristics in common.
- Slash-and-burn: the cutting and burning of forests or woodland to create space for agriculture or livestock.
- Subspecies: a population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
- Territory: an area occupied and defended by an animal, a pair of animals or a colony.
IUCN Red List (January, 2013)
- Kennedy, R.S., Fisher, T.H., Harrap, S.C.B., Diesmos, A.C. and Manamtam, A.S. (2001) A new species of woodcock (Aves: Scolopacidae) from the Philippines and a re-evaluation of other Asian/Papuasian woodcock. Forktail, 17: 1-12.
BirdLife International - Bukidnon woodcock (January, 2013)
- Kennedy, R.S., Gonzales, P.C., Dickinson, E.C., Miranda Jr, H.C. and Fisher, T.H. (2000) A Guide to the Birds of the Philippines. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
- Chandler, R. (2009) Shorebirds of the Northern Hemisphere. A&C Black Publishers, London.
- Burton, M. and Burton, R. (2002) International Wildlife Encyclopedia. Third Edition. Marshall Cavendish, New York.
- Allen, D., Española, C., Broad, G., Oliveros, C. and Gonzalez, J.C.T. (2006) New bird records for the Babuyan islands, Philippines, including two first records for the Philippines. Forktail, 22: 57-70.
Oliveros, C., Broad, G., Pedregosa, M., Española, C., Reyes, M.A., Garcia, H.J., Gonzalez, J.C. and Bajarias Jr, A. (2004) An Avifaunal Survey of the Babuyan Islands, Northern Philippines with Notes on Mammals, Reptiles and Amphibians. 29 March - 6 June 2004: Final Report. Unpublished report, Manila, Philippines. Available at:
- Saguindang, F.J., Nuneza, O.M. and Tabaranza Jr, B.R. (2002) Avifauna of Mt. Kimangkil Range, Bukidnon Province, Mindanao Island, Philippines. Asia Life Sciences, 11(1): 9-28.