Date: 1/7/18 7:12 pm
From: Clyde Sorenson <sorenson...>
Subject: Re: Woodcock moving to the coast during winter storms
Like John, I spent part of many winters in the late 70's and early banding
woodcock around Lake Mattamuskeet- on some nights, we would band north of
50. (This activity may be the single most fun thing I have ever done in my
life, by the way.) I've also spent some time wandering the woods around the
Lake (private land) hunting them. I am in the "They are largely already
there and just moving to exposed areas to emergency forage" camp. There are
huge numbers in the right kinds of woods (lots of cane, especially). I
remember a vicious cold snap in the early eighties that drove the birds
around the lake out of the woods and on to the road verges around the lake-
many got killed by the very light vehicular traffic in the area. I'm most
surprised by those showing up on the banks- but there may be a fair amount
of suitable habitat (for normal times) not that far away as the bogsucker

It amazes me how small a "covert" can be for these remarkable and dear
birds- When I was a teenager in Albemarle, NC, I found one in a tiny tangle
about 40X50 feet in my neighbor's suburban yard, and it returned for at
least three years. The draw in that case was the huge earthworm population
in that little patch of ground- my neighbor dumped all the leaves he raked
there every year, and the annelids really, really appreciated the extra

Clyde Sorenson
Clayton and Raleigh, NC

On Sun, Jan 7, 2018 at 11:33 AM, "J. Merrill Lynch" <carolinabirds...>

> I’ve been following the woodcock discussion with interest. They are indeed
> enigmatic and peculiar birds that we know relatively little about,
> particularly their short-range and long-range movements.
> Based on my observations over many years, I also am dubious of any large
> movements of birds eastward during severe winter weather. As several people
> have pointed out, they winter in large numbers in the coastal plain,
> probably comprised of many northern birds, compared to much smaller
> wintering numbers in the Piedmont and mountains. It seems to me that under
> stressful conditions they tend to congregate in favorable places where they
> can find food (often in more open areas where they are more visible) AND
> they tend to alter their behavior to feed more during the warmer daytime
> hours, again making them more visible.
> I’ve noticed this same thing in fox sparrows in eastern NC where I grew
> up. They would normally seem to be present in very small numbers except
> after heavy snows/severe cold when dozens would magically appear, literally
> overnight, feeding in flocks along the rural roadsides.
> As far as mountain woodcocks go, I think they are probably permanent
> residents but subject to altitudinal movement depending on weather and
> availability of food. My experience is they seem to disappear during cold
> weather periods but then quickly reappear with warmer weather.
> J. Merrill Lynch
> Conservation Biologist
> Echo Valley Farm
> Watauga County, NC
> Sent from my iPhone
> On Jan 7, 2018, at 10:26 AM, Brian Patteson (via carolinabirds Mailing
> List) <carolinabirds...> wrote:
> My personal experience in VA indicates that they do at least undertake
> short distance movements southward in response to freezing weather. I have
> seen hundreds within minutes in a small area at the tip of the Delmarva
> peninsula during a big cold snap. They are a common bird in the woods up
> there, but not in the density we observed following that ice storm several
> years ago.
> I also have doubts about them moving eastward en masse in response to cold
> weather.
> Brian Patteson
> Hatteras, NC
> On Jan 7, 2018, at 10:12 AM, John Connors (via carolinabirds Mailing List)
> <carolinabirds...> wrote:
> Sheryl, I agree with you, I don't think we can ascribe mass movements of
> inland woodcock to the coast.
> It is possible that woodcock would follow river courses eastward since
> they will often concentrate their feeding near flowing water when the
> ground is frozen, but we don't know that they do this. Northern birds may
> move farther south when heavy winter weather freezes the north.
> But Woodcock have always concentrated in the coastal plain of NC during
> winter- that has been known for decades- and most of these birds are from
> northern breeding populations. Woodcock that breed in the Piedmont and
> Mountains of NC may be permanent residents- the fact that they occupy
> courtship grounds in warm winter weather across those regions suggest that
> at least some do.
> Back in the late 1970s when we were studying woodcock in winter near Lake
> Mattamuskeet my colleague Tim Stamps found spring peeper frogs in the
> stomachs of woodcock during a particularly hard freeze. The birds move to
> seeps, small streams, river banks and sunny spots where soils melt and
> worms, and frogs/salamanders become accessible. That much we do know.
> John Connors
> Raleigh, NC
> On Sun, Jan 7, 2018 at 7:50 AM, Sheryl McNair <carolinabirds...>
> wrote:
>> Something doesn't seem right about this explanation. Having done
>> Woodcock surveys in the NC mountains in early Feb., I'm not sure I
>> understand why they would move to the coast in an ice/snow storm. There
>> are plenty of those in the mountains, and the Woodcocks are still there. I
>> think it far more likely that coastal Woodcocks head to the sun in these
>> unusually frigid conditions, and then are far more visible than usual.
>> But, things in the natural world don't always make sense.
>> Sheryl
>> ------------------------------
>> *From:* Nate Dias <carolinabirds...>
>> *To:* CarolinaBirds <carolinabirds...>
>> *Cc:* Greg Massey <gmassey001...>; Harry LeGrand <
>> <hlegrandjr...>
>> *Sent:* Saturday, January 6, 2018 3:45 PM
>> *Subject:* Re: Woodcock moving to the coast during winter storms
>> Here is a photo (shot through my mother's kitchen window) of one of the
>> January 2014 "refugees"
>> 956/in/photostream/lightbox/
>> <>
>> <>
>> -- No worries Harry - Woodcock are strange sometimes counter-intuitive
>> creatures. I read of one banded as a March nestling in
>> Alabama that was harvested by a hunter in Michigan the following October!
>> Nathan Dias - Charleston, SC< /div>
>> On Saturday, January 6, 2018, Greg Massey <gmassey001...> wrote:
>> During the ice and snow storm in the 1/30/2014 period, over 200 Woodcock
>> were reported at Oak Island, NC. This was documented by numerous observers
>> and I personally saw over 25 birds in one hour on 1/31/2014, along with
>> other birders. Jamie Adams reported 50 on his 2/01/2014 eBird report. Most
>> of the state was covered with snow, and these birds were pushed to their
>> limits. They were in yards, concrete driveways, ditches, almost anywhere.
>> Greg Massey
>> Leland,NC 28451
>> ---- ""Nate Dias" (via carolinabirds Mailing List)" <
>> <carolinabirds...> wrote:
>> Typo - 1892 not 1893.
>> On Saturday, January 6, 2018, Nate Dias <offshorebirder...> wrote:
>> > Exactly Guy. Woodcock move to the coast en masse during certain snow
>> and
>> > ice storms, showing up in very unusual environs.
>> >
>> > This has been documented and published about since Arthur T. Wayne's day
>> > and before.
>> >
>> > Here is one of Wayne's notes on the subject describing thousands of
>> > Woodcock falling out in Mt. Pleasant, SC following a snow/ice/sleet
>> storm
>> > in late December 1893:
>> >
>> > . com/v2/url?u=https-3A__sora.
>> unm.edu_sites_default_files_ journals_auk_&d=DwIBaQ&c=
>> imBPVzF25OnBgGmVOlcsiEgHoG1i6Y HLR0Sj_gZ4adc&r=ymRCw6Q-
>> sBitug_rdeO1Tokz-I_SX2LQN2_ Ocvlal9U&m= uK5ljFBmGobFvcU7yAPG5vrXjcPKsY
>> xsbQPpsrDcM_c&s= vkfkJtfXAeTnez34Aj4PxWyKzsNlkd G8qmmHcGqITKQ&e=
>> <>
>> > v010n02/p0204-p0204.pdf
>> >
>> > files/journals/auk/v010n02/ p0204-p0204.pdf
>> <>
>> >
>> >
>> > Nathan Dias - Charleston, SC
>> >
>> > On Saturday, January 6, 2018, <badgerboy...> wrote:
>> >
>> >> I thought I read on this list a couple years ago about massive woodcock
>> >> movements to the coast in cold snaps. My recollection is that people
>> had
>> >> reported large numbers of them and they thought the birds were NOT
>> normal
>> >> locally overwintering birds but rather that the sudden cold had pushed
>> much
>> >> higher numbers than normal into the coastal areas. Could have been a
>> faulty
>> >> memory though--anyone else remember this?
>> >>
>> >> Thanks, Guy McGrane, Deep Gap, NC
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> On 1/4/2018 9:58 PM, Steve Ritt (via carolinabirds Mailing List) wrote:
>> >>
>> >>> First, a reminder that it's unethical, not to mention even illegal
>> under
>> >>> the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, to capture and/or harass any raptor or
>> any
>> >>> other native bird, regardless of the status of domestic livestock.
>> >>>
>> >>> I also had an American Woodcock as a yard bird tonight in Harbinger,
>> NC.
>> >>> A Baltimore Oriole was just down the street. The Albermarle Sound was
>> way
>> >>> more active than usual today, although nothing was regionally
>> unusual. Most
>> >>> entertaining were Wilson's Snipe, Greater Yellowlegs, Dunlin,
>> Killdeer,
>> >>> American Pipit, and Song Sparrows all foraging together on ice balls
>> and a
>> >>> very tiny, sandy beach patch in the backyard.
>> >>>
>> >>> Has anyone else had frozen hummingbird casualties this week? One
>> (RTHU)
>> >>> was hanging upside down on my feeder the morning of New Years Eve
>> that I
>> >>> thought was in torpor, but it fell off two days later and did not
>> wake up.
>> >>>
>> >>> Steve Ritt
>> >>> Harbinger, NC / San Diego, CA
>> >>> (...hoping my next yard bird will be a Nazca Booby tomorrow.)
>> >>>
>> >>>
>> >>
>> >>

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