Date: 3/20/17 1:37 pm
From: \Shultz, Steven\ (via carolinabirds Mailing List) <carolinabirds...>
Subject: RE: Woodcock no more--north to die in snow?
To John’s point, I’ve witnessed woodcock displaying in NC seven months out of the year (November through May, inclusive), an indication that this behavior is not specifically tied to what we widely consider “breeding season”. I’ve had birds in the Piedmont display from November through March (inclusive) and in April in May along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

We tend to *think* of them displaying in February, but that’s probably more of an anthropomorphism on our part than a behavioral characteristic on theirs. I can typically count on getting my “year bird” woodcock on or about 1/1 each year, but that’s just having to wait on the calendar to roll around.

Steve Shultz
Apex, NC

From: <carolinabirds-request...> [mailto:<carolinabirds-request...>] On Behalf Of John Connors
Sent: Monday, March 20, 2017 4:25 PM
To: Christopher Hill
Cc: J. Merrill Lynch; <eric...>; Frank Enders; <Carolinabirds...>
Subject: Re: Woodcock no more--north to die in snow?

When we were doing woodcock studies during winter in the late 1970s near Lake Mattamuskeet in Hyde County, NC large numbers of males would engage in courtship activity in February. Most of these were wintering birds as evidenced by band recoveries we received from the north east US and Canada.
This is the same for most birds...they are stimulated to rehearse their courtship song/display as their hormones kick in, sometimes on the wintering grounds and often during migration.
John Connors
Raleigh, NC

On Mon, Mar 20, 2017 at 12:03 PM, Christopher Hill <Chill...><mailto:<Chill...>> wrote:
I’d keep an open mind about displaying on wintering grounds, or in general, about what does and doesn’t "make sense." The testosterone rises, and male birds start singing and displaying. It might not make sense for woodcock to waste energy displaying on wintering grounds, but there are costs to singing from a perch, too, and lots and lots of birds start singing, and showing aggression towards other males, long before they get to where they are going to breed. It might be hard physiologically to be able to have a clean on-off switch for breeding behaviors, and as with singing, there might also be some benefits to “practice” before you do it for real, with breeding success on the line. If by foraging for an extra half hour a bird can easily meet the extra caloric needs from displaying, there may be very small costs to displaying a bit on wintering ground.

Also I recall a study at a banding station that found that spring migrant female Tennessee warblers in some southeastern state, hundreds of miles south of the nearest breeding grounds, sometimes had sperm in their reproductive tracts. So some of that singing in migration and on wintering grounds might be more than just practice!

But as Merrill says, the answer may be out there and probably is if we did some digging.

Chris Hill
Conway, SC

On Mar 20, 2017, at 8:59 AM, J. Merrill Lynch <carolinabirds...><mailto:<carolinabirds...>> wrote:

I asked Frank the same questions and I share the same supposition as you: I doubt any northern nonbreeding birds display on the wintering grounds. It wouldn't make sense for the reasons you stated. Surely someone has done research on this and can supply a definitive answer.
J. Merrill Lynch
Conservation Biologist
Echo Valley Farm
Watauga County, NC
Sent from my iPhone

On Mar 20, 2017, at 8:55 AM, <eric...><mailto:<eric...> wrote:

Excellent questions, Frank. I am curious if there is an accompanying article somewhere given your first sentence or is this some combination of word-of-mouth and personal observation?

It would be interesting to know whether migrant male woodcock would bother displaying anywhere other than the sites where they intended to attract females? Would appear to be a waste of energy to do so. Their aerial displays require more energy and risk more exposure to predators than simply singing from a perch. Perhaps there's a published paper out there somewhere?

Eric Harrold

Hays, NC

On 2017-03-20 07:47, Frank Enders wrote:

Many woodcock have died, NY to Vermont, in recent snow--some by imm Goshawk in Brooklyn's Prospect Park, some hitting tall buildings, some starving on frozen white.

For months one to several woodcock were singing just north of Quankey Creek along Aurelian Springs Road. But, the displays stopped about two weeks ago. Makes me wonder how many of "our" woodcock are birds which breed in more northern areas. Always have wondered about "double-brooding", which might be just by males which try here and try again up there, females "stuck" here with nests. Too speculative, I guess.

But, nobody knows what percentage of "our" woodcock, which display for the Xmas bird counts, may not be local breeders.

Frank Enders, Halifax, NC

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