And God Created …

The Timberdoodle

David Everson

     When God created the birds, He made some of the most amazing and, indeed, the most unusual creatures that we find on the earth.  However, when He created the Timberdoodle, he seems to have broken the mold.  Let us look at a most reclusive and little-known bird in God’s creation.

The timberdoodle is one of the colorful folk names by which this bird is known, but it is more correctly known as the American woodcock.  Other folk names are night partridge, big-eye, bogsucker, and mudsnipe.  Living in many places in the world, a woodcock-type bird has several variations.  The American woodcock lives east of the Mississippi River and is actually a member of the Sandpiper family; most members of which are shore-dwelling birds, but the timberdoodle is a resident of young, hardwood forests.  It is a strange little creature with big eyes and a bill that looks too long for its body.  Its feathers make it blend in with the dead leaves on the forest floor, and, as it walks slowly around, it bobs up and down, possibly to mimic leaves moving in the breeze.  It is most active at dusk, night, and dawn, as the timberdoodle uses its long bill to probe rich forest soil for its favorite food, earthworms.

The timberdoodle is unique among the birds in different ways, some of which are difficult for evolutionary scientists of the world to explain as gradual changes over time.  One of the most difficult problems for an evolutionist to explain is the timberdoodle’s brain.  It is in its head wrong!  It is, basically, upside down and backwards.  Its cerebellum – which controls muscle coordination and body balance – is located below the rest of the brain and above the spinal column.  In most birds, the cerebellum occupies the rear of the skull.  This unusual location for the brain appears to be related to the design God gave the woodcock/timberdoodle of having eye placement that allows virtually 360 degrees of vision.  The need for wide placed eyes may have something to do with the timberdoodle’s very slow flight.  It is among the slowest of flyers in the birds, moving along at a very slow 5 miles per hour.

The timberdoodle is also unique in its courtship behavior.  The males will select a display area, and the females will gather around during the early spring.  At dusk, the males make an insect-like “chirp” sound and then fly up to about 200-300 feet and begin a slow spiraling, descending flight.  As it does this, air rushing through the feathers produces a twittering sound, which is unique in its effect.  Females then select their mates, and several weeks later the chicks are born.  The chicks are precocious.  This means that the chicks have a very early puberty and are fully feathered when they hatch.  This allows them to begin activity very quickly, and they will follow Mom in a matter of hours.  The mother timberdoodle also has one other trick for moving its young to safety.  It can carry the chick on its feet as it flies, allowing the mother to get the babies out of danger much faster.

As the chicks grow, they will share one other unique design provided by God, that of a hinged bill.  This bill is very sensitive, and the hinge allows the timberdoodle to probe around in the dirt for earthworms.  When one is detected, then the hinge comes into play.  The hinge allows the bill to be opened without pulling the bill out of the ground, which makes feeding much easier. 

Therefore, we can see that, in the creation of the woodcock/timberdoodle, God has shown marvelous understanding of the role of this bird in the world and given it many unique traits that defy explanation by gradual evolutionary processes.  May we always realize that we serve a great Creator.  –Rt 1 Box 116A, Belington, WV 26250.

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