Migratory bird species pose serious management challenges because it is difficult to determine habitats utilized during their entire life cycles. As American woodcock populations have experienced long-term declines, wintering habitat management has become increasingly important. Past studies on woodcock have relied predominantly on Very High Frequency (VHF) telemetry, which require an observer to manually track them to gather location information. Our study employed both Global Positioning System (GPS) and VHF tags on woodcock to gather high resolution movement data in order to evaluate habitat use and compare VHF and GPS approaches to habitat sampling. We simulated a VHF approach to tracking the same individuals from the GPS tag data (spanning 252 bird-days) and utilized vegetation samples from our VHF tracked birds to evaluate use and random paired location sampling. We found that many random locations fell within the Minimum Convex Polygons (MCP) as defined via the GPS tags (average diurnal MCP size was 0.04 ha). Overall, our results suggest that evaluating resource selection by woodcock requires discerning the appropriate scale(s) of habitat selection via the identification of the spatial and temporal components underlying individual movement ecology.
PUBLICATION AVAILABLE AT: https://pubs.lib.umn.edu/index.php/aws/article/view/2378