Nocturnal field use by fall migrating American woodcock in the Delta of Arkansas


  • Associate Editor: Wayne Thogmartin


The American woodcock (Scolopax minor) population has declined since the late 1960s across its range and is now considered a species of special concern. Research on woodcock habitat use during migration and migratory routes through the Central Flyway has been limited. We assessed woodcock phenology, estimated density, and nocturnal habitat use in fields on public lands in the lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley portion of Arkansas during November and December of 2010 and 2011. We used all-terrain vehicles to survey woodcock along transects in 67 fields of 8 field types. We analyzed data using hierarchical distance sampling. We detected woodcock from the first week in November through the third week in December but in low numbers. We did not detect woodcock in millet or rice fields, whereas woodcock had the highest estimated densities in unharvested soybeans. All other crop type–post-harvest management combinations had low woodcock densities. We did not detect woodcock in fields <8 ha or >40 ha. Woodcock in the lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley may benefit from management for unharvested soybean fields of moderate size (approx. 8–40 ha). © 2014 The Wildlife Society.