Migratory status determines resource selection by American Woodcock at an important fall stopover, Cape May, New Jersey

The Condor
By: , and 



Migration is a period of high activity and exposure during which risks and energetic demand on individuals may be greater than during nonmigratory periods. Stopover locations can help mitigate these threats by providing supplemental energy en route to the animal’s end destination. Effective conservation of migratory species therefore requires an understanding of use of space that provides resources to migratory animals at stopover sites. We conducted a radio-telemetry study of a short-distance migrant, the American Woodcock (Scolopax minor), at an important stopover site, the Cape May Peninsula, New Jersey. Our objectives were to describe land-cover types used by American Woodcock and evaluate home range habitat selection for individuals that stopover during fall migration and those that choose to overwinter. We radio-marked 271 individuals and collected 1,949 locations from these birds (0–21 points individual–1) over 4 yr (2010 to 2013) to inform resource selection functions of land-cover types and other landscape characteristics by this species. We evaluated these relationships at multiple spatial extents for (1) birds known to have ultimately left the peninsula (presumed migrants), and (2) birds known to have remained on the peninsula into the winter (presumed winter residents). We found that migrants selected deciduous wetland forest, agriculture, mixed shrub, coniferous wetland forest, and coniferous shrub, while wintering residents selected deciduous wetland forest, coniferous shrub, and deciduous shrub. We used these results to develop predictive models of potential habitat: 7.80% of the peninsula was predicted to be potential stopover habitat for American Woodcock (95% classification accuracy) and 4.96% of the peninsula was predicted to be potential wintering habitat (85% classification accuracy). Our study is the first to report habitat relationships for migratory American Woodcock in the coastal U.S. and provides important spatial tools for local and regional managers to support migratory and winter resident woodcock populations into the future.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Migratory status determines resource selection by American Woodcock at an important fall stopover, Cape May, New Jersey
Series title The Condor
DOI 10.1093/condor/duaa046
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Oxford Academic
Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description duaa046, 16 p.
Country United States
State New Jersey
Other Geospatial Cape May
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