Microhabitat Characteristics of Nocturnal Roost Sites of American Woodcock in East Texas

Long-term declines in American woodcock (Scolopax minor) populations may be partially the result of low survival rates on wintering grounds especially in nocturnal habitats. We compared microhabitat characteristics of woodcock nocturnal roost sites to random sites in eastern Texas. We located woodcock roost points by nightlighting in winters of 2000-01 (45 points) and 2001-02 (74 points). Percentage bare soil, sapling-size tree canopy cover above 0.5 m, and sapling density were greater at roost than random sites. Conversely, shrub ground cover (i.e., below 0.5 m) was lower at roost than random sites. Woodcock roosted in mowed areas, unmowed bunchgrass, under saplings treated with herbicides the previous summer, and in areas where carpetgrass had been burned the previous winter. They did not roost in unburned carpetgrass. In eastern Texas, woodcock nocturnal roost sites can be created in abandoned fields and pastures by mowing or the judicious use of herbicides and/or prescribed fire.

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