American Woodcock

Paco Lyptic via Flickr

Every spring, a state Department of Environmental Conservation biologist drives along north country highways at dawn or dusk, stopping every so often to pull over and listen to the nature sounds.

She's listening for the distinctive “peent” of the singing American woodcock, a brown speckled bird a little larger than a songbird with a long, narrow beak for pulling earthworms out of the newly thawed ground.