We measured characteristics of habitat near 89 nests of American woodcock (Scolopax minor) and 100 randomly selected points on Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge, Calais, Maine, an area managed for woodcock. At nest sites, basal area was lower (P < 0.001), densities of deciduous saplings were greater (P < 0.001), densities of coniferous saplings were lower (P = 0.001), densities of shrub stems were greater (P = 0.002), and height of trees was shorter (P = 0.001) than at random sites. Nest sites were closer to openings (P < 0.001) than were random sites. Nests were in 15 cover types. The aspen (Populus spp.), tamarack (Larix laricina), and alder (Alnus rugosa) types were used as nest sites more often than expected in relation to habitat types available at random sites (P < 0.001). Fifty-eight percent (n = 89) of nests were in stands of aspen, 11% in alder or tamarack, and 10% in mature second-growth gray birch (Betula populifolia) and red maple (Acer rubrum). Forty-four percent (n = 89) of the nests were in clearcuts <10 years old. Habitat characteristics around sites of first nests were not different among years (P > 0.05) or between sites of successful nests and nests destroyed by predators, although the large variances of the variables reduced our power to detect differences. Habitat around sites of renests differed from sites of first nests. Sites around first nests had lower basal area of dead trees (P = 0.05) and higher stem densities of aspen (P = 0.03) and cherry saplings (P = 0.001), and viburnum (P = 0.05), while renest sites had taller trees (P = 0.02). The change from nest sites in areas dominated by alders and tree-size gray birch used in 1977-80 to sites dominated by sapling trees, especially aspen, used during 1987-90 suggests that woodcock in the expanding population at the refuge are selecting nest sites created by habitat management since 1979.
Additional publication details
Habitat characteristics of American woodcock nest sites on a managed area in Maine