Arkansas Woodcock Migrations Under Scrutiny by UA Scientists

American Woodcock
Arkansas Woodcock Migrations Under Scrutiny by UA Scientists
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
Arkansas Game & Fish Commission

Arkansas -(Ammoland.com)- Biologists are using a federal grant to continue tracking the migration of the familiar American woodcock, a bird whose population is slowly declining across eastern North America.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has awarded nearly $50,000 to the U.S. Geological Survey Arkansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, housed in the University of Arkansas Department of Biological Sciences, for a woodcock-monitoring project that began in 2013.
“We’ve seen long-term declines across the species range at a rate of about 1 percent a year since the 1960s,” said David Krementz, a research professor of biological sciences at the U of A and leader of the fish and wildlife unit. “Understanding woodcock migration is a conservation priority because its migratory period is believed to be a period of high mortality.”
American woodcocks have been studied extensively in their breeding grounds – which include the upper Midwest, New England and Canada – and their wintering grounds in the Southeast and Gulf Coast, but there has been very little research of the woodcocks during their migratory period, Krementz said.
Joe Moore, a master’s student in biology at the U of A, will trap woodcocks this fall in their breeding and wintering grounds in the upper Midwest and this winter in their wintering grounds in Texas and Louisiana. Moore will attach specialized satellite transmitters on the birds to track their southern migration.
“We will be able to identify migration routes, regions that are important for migratory stopovers, as well as the habitat types they are using for these stopovers,” Moore said. “These data could then be used to identify priority areas to focus on habitat management and land acquisition efforts, and fine-tune hunting-season dates along the woodcocks’ migration routes.”
In a pilot project that began in the fall of 2013, researchers attached satellite transmitters to woodcocks in Minnesota, Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas.
The research team, which includes the U.S. Geological Survey Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has created a website showing up-to-date locations of tagged woodcocks.