Enhancing Nocturnal Habitat for the American Woodcock on Louisiana Wintering Grounds

  • James C. Haynes Department of Biology, University of Louisiana at Monroe
  • Jeffrey P. Duguay Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
  • Kim Marie Tolson Department of Biology, University of Louisiana at Monroe

Abstract

American woodcock (Scolopax minor; hereafter, woodcock) have experienced long-term population declines across much of their breeding distribution since 1968. Previous research suggests that nocturnal habitat availability on the wintering grounds is important to wintering woodcock survival. We compared 4 different land management techniques: mowing, burning, disking, and a mow/burn combination for enhancing nocturnal habitat for woodcock in south-central Louisiana. From 2011–2013, we monitored study plots during overcast nights throughout winter months. We detected woodcock most frequently in both the burn and mow treatments and least frequently in the disk treatment. The total numbers of woodcock we captured and flushed were 13 times greater in the burn treatment than in the disk treatment. We captured 24 times more juvenile woodcock in the mow and burn treatments than in the disk treatment. We captured 12 times more female woodcock in the burn treatment than in the disk treatment, whereas we captured 9 times more male woodcock in the mow treatment than in the disk treatment. Our results suggest that suitable nocturnal habitat for woodcock on the wintering grounds in south-central Louisiana can be enhanced by burning and/or mowing.

Published
2019-12-02