[CT Birds] Woodcock/"Timberdoodle"
ghanisek at rep-am.com
Fri Mar 23 00:35:40 EDT 2007
Dave Bingham raised several points that have occured to me as the woodcock
reports have been mounting. The presence of dead or dying birds causes
understandable alarm, but it's good to bear in mind that what we're
witnessing here is fairly normal. It's probably more conspicuous given the
conditions, but normal nonetheless. Birds that migrate in March and early
April are equipped as a species to deal with harsh weather even if some
individuals perish. What I find interesting is the woodcock's apparent
ability to react very quickly to changing weather conditions. This year for
instance woodcocks were displaying in early to mid-January when weather was
unusually mild and then essentially disappeared when cold weather hit. I'm
guessing these were birds that never moved farther south until the
mid-January cold snap, but of course I don't really know. Over the years
woodcocks have made their first "spring" appearances anywhere from February
well into March, and occasionally even January. It seems that woodcocks are
capable of very fast-reacting facultative migrations (migrations influenced
by factors such as local weather, as opposed to hard-wired long-distance
migrations). But I'm just supposing here. I'd be interested to know if there
are any studies on that. There probably are since the species is managed as
----- Original Message -----
From: "david bingham" <dbbingham at sbcglobal.net>
To: "Kathy Van Der Aue" <kvda at optonline.net>; <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org>
Sent: Thursday, March 22, 2007 11:24 PM
Subject: [CT Birds] Woodcock/"Timberdoodle"
> Sad to hear about the dead birds.
> I flushed three Woodcock near my home today. So we can be sure some have
> survived the cold. The big wave of these birds is just under way.
> There is always a balance between "the early birds that get the worm" and
> the really early ones that get frozen out of their food supply. But I'm
> surprised if the deaths were really from the freeze because even in the
> coldest weather (like when it was below freezing for most of the month of
> February), I find when I try to cross swamps there are areas that remain
> unfrozen due to their location, and have a tendency stay warm. I also find
> that I sometimes flush Woodcock on our farm in mid-winter here in Salem
> almost every year, even at the coldest of seasons. When we get a thaw, and
> full moon, I have even heard them doing their "peenting" and displays in
> both January and February in some years.
> Other causes of death (collisions, viruses, toxins) should also be
> considered. If they are emaciated, that would make it unlikely that trauma
> or acute poisoning would be the cause, but a viral illness could linger
> enough to get emaciated before the demise. Or the dead birds may be
> inexperience young birds that just haven't learned well enough how to find
> what sustenance is there when harsh weather sets in.
> On the other hand, with two clutches in many summers and a reproductive
> span of several years, the Woodcock population would explode if we could
> provide the habitat, warmth, safety and food supply to sustain them all.
> balance of nature is more a teeter-totter than a steady state for most
> David Bingham
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Kathy Van Der Aue" <kvda at optonline.net>
> To: <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org>
> Sent: Thursday, March 22, 2007 8:25 AM
> Subject: Re: [CT Birds] Late for work again
>> We've had sad reports of dead woodcocks at Birdcraft Museum and Sanctuary
>> Fairfield. A couple of dead ones have also been brought by. I assume
>> have starved to death with the frozen ground preventing them from getting
>> Kathy Van Der Aue
>> Southport, Connecticut
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