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23 September 2020 Migratory Status Determines Resource Selection By American Woodcock at an Important Fall Stopover, Cape May, New Jersey
Brian B. Allen, Daniel G. McAuley, Erik J. Blomberg
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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.


  • Stopover sites provide habitat for migratory animals to rest and refuel before continuing migration, making these areas important for species' conservation.

  • We used radio-telemetry to assess American Woodcock stopover and wintering habitat selection on the Cape May Peninsula, New Jersey.

  • Short-term migrants used a greater variety of land-covers than winter residents, although both selected deciduous wetland forest and sites in close proximity to fields.

  • Less than 10% of the Cape May Peninsula provides stopover or wintering habitat for American Woodcock, highlighting the importance of conserving these important but potentially limited resources.

Published by Oxford University Press for the American Ornithological Society 2020. This work is written by (a) US Government employee(s) and is in the public domain in the US.
Brian B. Allen, Daniel G. McAuley, and Erik J. Blomberg "Migratory Status Determines Resource Selection By American Woodcock at an Important Fall Stopover, Cape May, New Jersey," The Condor 122(4), 1-16, (23 September 2020).
Received: 3 February 2020; Accepted: 11 August 2020; Published: 23 September 2020
American woodcock
fall migration
resource selection
Scolopax minor
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