We evaluated sites on an industrial forest in central Arkansas that American Woodcocks (Scolopax minor) used for courtship during their spring migration. Our main objective was to determine the vegetation characteristics used by male woodcocks on their courtship sites within early successional pine stands. We quantified use within three stages of early successional pine stand; pine seedling (1 year old), young-pine sapling (2–3 years old), and old-pine sapling (4–5 years old). We used crespuscular surveys as an index to the number of woodcock using each stand. We completed surveys in January–March 2010 and 2011 on eight stands of each stage (n = 24) during 7–10 day sampling periods across spring migration. We quantified the vegetation structure of each stand including the percent of bare ground, standing herbaceous, flattened herbaceous, shrub, coarse woody debris, and canopy cover and horizontal density. We found that woodcocks used stands with greater shrub, standing herbaceous, and flattened herbaceous cover. This is different from other studies in the southern United States that have shown woodcocks to use areas with sparse vegetation and increased bare ground. We suggest this disparity occurred because previous studies assumed constant detection between stands with different vegetative structure, whereas we completed detection tests to determine how vegetative structure may influence detection between stand types and incorporated these differences in detection into our analyses.
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Vol. 125 • No. 2