Declines in the number of American woodcock (Scolopax minor) heard on annual singing ground surveys have resulted in concern regarding the population status of woodcock in both the Central and Eastern Management Regions. Although changes in the distribution and abundance of woodcock habitat are believed to largely be responsible for apparent population declines, relatively little is known regarding the influence of harvest on woodcock population dynamics. Similarly, movements and habitat use of woodcock in fall prior to migration are poorly understood. In 2001 (Minnesota) and 2002 (Michigan and Wisconsin), we initiated a study of woodcock to assess magnitude and causes of woodcock mortality, and investigate movements and habitat use of woodcock in the western Great Lakes Region during fall. In all 3 states, we radio-marked woodcock on paired study areas; one of which was open to woodcock hunting (“hunted areas”) and one of which was closed (“non-hunted areas”) to hunting or had limited access for hunting (“lightly-hunted areas”). In 2003, across all 3 states we captured and radio-equipped 338 woodcock; 194 on hunted areas and 144 on non-hunted or lightly-hunted areas. Survival rates of woodcock during the 2003 hunting season in Michigan were 0.778 + 0.157 in the hunted area and 0.857 + 0.240 in the non-hunted area. In Minnesota, the hunting season survival rate of woodcock in the hunted area was 0.733 + 0.303, and in the non-hunted area it was 0.854 + 0.155. In Wisconsin, the hunting season survival rates of woodcock were 0.657 + 0.151 in the hunted area and 0.735 + 0.151 in the lightly hunted area. A sub-sample of after hatch year (AHY) female woodcock was monitored intensively in each state and preliminary analyses of movement and habitat use data from these birds suggest that woodcock make primarily small-scale movements (47.7% <50 m between subsequent locations and 5.82 ha average 95% fixed kernel home range size) prior to migration. Primary cover types used were aspen (Populus spp.) seedling/sapling, aspen pole, alder (Alnus spp.), conifer, and willow (Salix spp.). Preliminary analyses also suggest that woodcock used edges within individual covers, but that use of edge habitats is variable among habitat types and years.
Andersen, David E; Bruggink, John G; Doherty, Kevin; Lutz, R.Scott; Meunier, Jed; Oppelt, Eileen.
FALL SURVIVAL, MOVEMENTS, AND HABITAT USE OF AMERICAN WOODCOCK IN THE WESTERN GREAT LAKES REGION: 2003 FIELD SEASON REPORT.
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