Because limited information is available regarding preferences for nocturnal habitat during winter, we studied use of nocturnal habitats by American woodcock (Scolopax minor) wintering in the Georgia Piedmont (1994-95). During the evening crepuscular period, woodcock on the wintering grounds move from forested to field habitats, presumably to feed, conduct courtship displays, roost, and avoid predators. We conducted crepuscular flight surveys and tracked radio-marked woodcock to compare the use of fields of different sizes (<5.5 ha, 5.540.0 ha, >40.0 ha) and types (seed tree-clearcuts, fallow-old fields, hayfields, pastures). Fields > 5.5 ha were used more frequently than fields <5.5 ha (P < 0.001). Seed tree-clearcuts and fallow-old fields were more frequently used than pastures (P = 0.003). Woodcock also most frequently used fields with greater foliage volume at 0.82.0 m in height and a high percentage of bare soil (P < 0.001). Nocturnal use of fields or forests by radio-marked woodcock did not differ among age or sex classes. However, females moved an average of 230 + 32.1 m between diurnal and nocturnal locations while males moved 525 + 53.1 m ( P = 0.085). Movements differed among moon phases (P < 0.003), ranging from 579 + 79.6 m during the new moon to 213 + 50.5 m during the full moon. To manage habitat on the wintering grounds, seed tree-clearcuts and fallow-old fields should be created or maintained near preferred diurnal habitats.
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The seventy-fourth Christmas bird count. 315. Southern Dorchester County, Md