Habitat use and survival rates of radio-marked American woodcocks (Scolopax minor) were studied during the winter in coastal South Carolina (1988-89) and Georgia (1989-90). Soon after they arrived, woodcocks were captured in mist nets or in modified shorebird traps or by nightlighting. Each bird was weighed, aged, sexed, and fitted with a 4-g radio transmitter and monitored daily until it died or could not be located or until its radio failed. During the day, the woodcocks in South Carolina frequented seasonally flooded stands of gum-oak-willow (Liquidambar-Quercus-Salix) > 75% of the time and <15-year-old pine (Pinus spp.) plantations during the remaining time. The predominantly used understory vegetation was switch cane (Arundinaria gigantica). In Georgia, woodcocks used bottomland hardwoods, young pine plantations (<15-years-old), mature pine-hardwood stands, and clear-cuttings that had regenerated naturally. Wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera) dominated the used understory species at these sites. The woodcocks in South Carolina rarely made daily moves between daytime and nighttime cover, whereas the birds in Georgia made regular flights. At both sites, the daily survival rates of females were low, especially in the absence of losses from hunting. Daily survival rates of females ranged from 0.992 in adults to 0.994 in young. Daily survival rates of males ranged from 1.0 in adults to 0.996 in young. We determined no significant differences in the daily survival rates of woodcocks by age or sex in either South Carolina or Georgia. Probable predators of radio-marked woodcocks included bobcats (Lynx rufus), gray foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), and barred owls (Strix varia).
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Federal Government Series
Habitat use and survival rates of wintering American woodcocks in coastal South Carolina and Georgia