American Woodcock

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American Woodcock

  • Michigan is one of the nation’s top nesting locations for woodcock.
  • The woodcock is considered by wildlife biologists as an “umbrella species” – meaning its welfare can gauge the well-being of other animals that share its environment.
  • Maturing forests and land development have depleted young forests.

The Need for Management

As young forests matured and land was overtaken by urban development, woodcock populations began to decline. Since the 1960s, the American woodcock population has fallen by about 1% each year. In previous years, logging practices and naturally occurring wildfires renewed their brushy habitat. In response to the growing reluctance to cut forestland and use of fire suppression to prevent wildfires, new methods were developed to maintain the woodcock’s habitat. Young forests are now restored through controlled burns and other forest management practices.

Management Results

Beyond habitat conservation, banding has had a significant impact on the American woodcock. Banding allows biologists to keep a record of breeding, behavior and migratory routes. Since 1981, Michigan has banded 38,000 woodcocks. In some cases, harmless Matchbox-size trackers are attached to the birds to even more closely monitor their migratory patterns.

Management Activities

Efforts to help conserve the woodcock habitat began in the 1960s. Methods used toward that goal since then include:

  • Banding woodcock to track their breeding, behavior and migratory routes.
  • Public and private wildlife management organizations working to create thousands of acres of young forest, the habitat of the woodcock and other species – such as snowshoe hare, bobcat, white-tailed deer, ruffed grouse, whip-poor-will, golden-winged warbler, willow flycatcher, indigo bunting and the eastern box turtle.
  • Carefully regulated hunting seasons based on scientific research to help manage the population.