Don’t despair for this ’cock

The Brooklyn Paper
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Boerum Hill’s amateur ornithologists were left swooning this week when the John Cusack of the bird world landed in an Atlantic Avenue garden this week.

Limor Gasko was enjoying a quiet Saturday morning when she caught sight of a round-faced, long-limbed bird hopping, in a rather dazed fashion, around the garden behind her home on the busy avenue.

“It was larger than a tennis ball, with a very round body and long pointed beak, probably around three or four inches long,” she said in a message to a Boerum Hill Web site.

“[He looked] kind of lost,” she said. Gasko was unable to forget the “adorable” backyard guest.

“I really would love to see him again,” she told The Stoop.

Separate investigations completed Tuesday by Gasko and The Stoop, however, have determined that the feathered friend was most likely a woodcock — a love-’em-and-leave-’em woodland bird known in Brooklyn for his ability to arrive in the city, breed, and be off again on his migratory path by the next night. (See our exclusive composite sketch at right.)

The birds are relatively common, but often noticed by birders who admire their endearingly awkward features.

Ornithologists warn those who have seen the birds not to get too attached.

“They will land in your yard at night, feed, and, sometimes, breed during the day, and take off the next night,” said Glenn Phillips, executive director of the New York City chapter of the National Audubon Society.

Woodcocks often appear confused about their surrounding and enjoy “digging around in the dirt,” Phillips said.

Gasko, an artist who paints detailed oil portraits of fake birds, said that she would do what she could to bring the live woodcock back to Boerum Hill, regardless of the potential for heartbreak.

“It was sad to see him go,” she said, “He looked so lost.”

He probably was anything but.

The Stoop will continue the hunt for the ball-shaped bird. E-mail sightings to

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