Best Management Practices - Atlantic Coast

Conservationists are currently developing Best Management Practices for woodcock as part of the Atlantic Coast Young Forest Initiative.

A general prescription for managing habitat for woodcock follows:

Landscape Scale Goals

Woodcock thrive when the four different kinds of habitat that they need lie close to each other.

We can manage relatively small tracts for woodcock, if all of the habitat types are present or if those habitats exist on neighboring lands. In fact, creating habitat on small private holdings is key to bringing the timberdoodle back: Just because a landowner doesn't own hundreds of acres doesn't mean he or she can't do a lot to benefit woodcock.

Woodcock feeding on worm.

Landowners can help woodcock by making habitat even on small tracts of land.

Read about the different-sized demonstration areas that conservationists and private landowners have made across the woodcock's breeding range. (Go to the Regional Initiatives section of this website and click on Demonstration Areas, then search by state for individual projects.) And take a close look at this cooperative project in which a number of small landowners agreed to make young forest for woodcock and other wildlife in a Central Pennsylvania watershed.)

On a larger or landscape scale, the goal of habitat management is to create a mosaic of quality habitat that can support 500 woodcock. Research by conservation biologists suggests that 500 individuals in a population will likely ensure that population's viability. Studies done in areas managed intensively for woodcock show that a unit of 500 to 1000 acres should support approximately 500 woodcock.

The table below shows woodcock population densities on the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge in Maine; on the Ethan Allen Firing Range in Vermont; and in general habitat as evaluated through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's annual survey of male woodcock heard singing during the spring. The two areas with extensive habitat management, and the national singing ground survey are contrasted. The two areas where intensive habitat management has been conducted show the strongest woodcock populations.