navigation bar
   
njdep  
  New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife
 
njdep home f&w home
Facebook Logo Instagram logo

American Woodcock Migration Study

 

January 22, 2019

Beginning in 2018, Fish and Wildlife has worked cooperatively with several universities and state, federal, and non-governmental agencies on a study to better understand American woodcock ecology and migration. The study utilizes GPS telemetry units and has the following objectives:

  1. Assess rate and path of migration during fall and spring;

  2. Compare migration strategies between northern and southern breeding populations of woodcock;

  3. Analyze landscape patterns affecting migratory stopover during migrations;

  4. Evaluate survival of GPS-marked woodcock during migration and relate to observed patterns in mortality associated with regional variation or landscape-scale factors;

  5. Combine telemetry data with other datasets to develop a full life cycle population model for American woodcock.

During December, Division staff and cooperators captured and put small radio-tags on 15 woodcock (8 females and 7 males) on the lower Cape May peninsula. These small transmitters send periodic locations via satellites that allow biologists to track their movements without having to recapture them. Woodcock were captured at night with long-handled dip nets by "freezing" them on the ground using high-powered spotlights in mowed strips of fields where the birds roost at night.

The Nature Conservancy, Cape May National Wildlife Refuge, and New Jersey Audubon played key cooperator roles by preparing (mowing) sites for capture in roost fields, allowing access to land, or by lending capture equipment.

Shortly after banding, one woodcock banded in New Jersey moved to eastern North Carolina, while two birds moved to the eastern shore of Virginia just before Christmas. The remaining birds continued to make local movements on the Cape May Peninsula.

Additional information, including maps showing movements of all telemetry-marked birds, can be found at: www.woodcockmigration.org

Click images to enlarge
Woodcock with telemetry device
Woodcock with telemetry device.

Saw whet owl between two woodcock
Bonus saw-whet owl (center) captured and banded by NJ Audubon cooperators on same night/site where several woodcock were instrumented.

Map showing local wintering movements of Cape May tagged woodcock
Map showing local wintering movements of Cape May tagged woodcock.
Click to enlarge
Map showing Cape May bird that moved to eastern North Carolina
Map showing Cape May bird that moved to eastern North Carolina.
Click to enlarge
Map showing Cape May bird that moved to eastern shore of Virginia
Map showing Cape May bird that moved to eastern shore of Virginia.
Click to enlarge

bottom footer contact dep privacy notice legal statement accessibility statement nj home nj home citizen business government services a to z departments dep home

division of fish & wildlife: home | links | contact f&w
department: njdep home | about dep | index by topic | programs/units | dep online
statewide: njhome | citizen | business | government | services A to Z | departments | search

Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-2019
Department of Environmental Protection
P.O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: January 22, 2019