Publications about curiosities are known in the Hungarian and international ornithological literature since the 1800s. Although studies explaining the processes of pigmentation dysfunctions have been known since the mid-nineteenth century, these specimens still appear only as curiosities in the professional press and the terminology used to specify them is generally incorrect. The analysed genetic abnormalities causing white colour varieties in Woodcock (albinism, leucism, Ino) are due to mutations. By briefly describing the biological background of the defects, this work helps detect colour changes. In this article, we provide a broad overview of partially or completely white Woodcocks (n = 23 expl.) found in international (8 countries) and Hungarian literature. We have supplemented the literature background with our own studies. The large-scale analysis of the variability of colours and patterns was made possible by the countrywide wing sample collection within the biometric module of Woodcock Monitoring, which has been running under the coordination of the Hungarian Hunting Conservation Association since 2010. Within this framework, 12,078 samples were analysed between 2010–2018. We found that pigment deficiency occurred in the sample set only with a proportion of 0.01%. Based on the Hungarian literature and our own samples, we presented the known occurrences on maps of the state territory with boundaries before and after 1921, indicating the causes of patterns of occurrence by migration and frequencies of occurrence.
In this study, we summarized and evaluated nesting data of 300 Woodcocks in both historic and present Hungary recorded from the 19th century until now that appeared in 108 ornithological and hunting literature including the results of Vönöczky Schenk’s study (1908–1917). We acquired a comprehensive picture of Woodcock nestings in the Carpathian Basin as we drew nesting maps based on previously collected data analysis. We classified those significant regions where nesting data of this sparsely nesting species were registered. It is ascertainable that the distribution of Woodcock nestings concentrated in certain regions of the country both before and after the First World War. Nesting data collected before 1921 concentrated to higher areas especially the well forested regions of the Carpathian Mountains where 3 main nesting regions can be distinguished with 72% of all nesting data. The most significant nesting area is the region of the North Carpathian Mountains (36%) (Pest-Pilis-Solt-Kiskun, Esztergom, Hont, Nógrád, Borsod, Gömör and Kis-Hont, Abaúj-Torna, Zólyom, Liptó, Sáros, Zemplén and Ung counties). The second main nesting region is situated on the ranges of the East and South Carpathian Mountains (26%) (Máramaros, Beszterce-Naszód, Maros-Torda, Udvarhely, Kisküküllő, Nagyküküllő, Brassó, Fogaras, Szeben, Alsó-Fehér, Torda-Aranyos counties). The third important nesting region can be found in the west part of Historic Hungary (10%) (Moson, Győr, Sopron, Vas, Zala counties). The distribution of nesting observations – based on data collected between 1921–2019 – can be connected well to mountainous nesting regions in the Kingdom of Hungary where nesting conditions were more favourable. Many of these regions are abroad now. Apart from sparse nestings on the Great Hungarian Plain, breeding grounds concentrate in well forested areas such as in North Hungarian counties (63%) (Pest, Nógrád and Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén) and in some Transdanubian counties (31%) mainly in Győr-Moson Sopron, Vas, Veszprém and Baranya counties.
In the dominant nesting regions this species typically do not join to higher altitudes, however, in the south margin of their nesting region in the Carpathian Basin – based on 170 years nesting data (n=704) – it can be stated that they rather nest in woodlands of higher altitudes due to their more favourable (cool and rainy) climatic features.