Habitat - Nesting Areas

  1. Most hen woodcock nest in young second-growth hardwood stands near feeding areas and/or the singing grounds where they bred. The woody stem density of nesting areas should be at least 6,000 stems per acre. Excellent brood habitat is characterized by a protective cover of dense young hardwood trees growing on soils that support ample numbers of earthworms.
  2. What to Look For:
    1. Forest sites that are somewhat drier than prime feeding areas, with saplings or small pole-sized trees. These areas may include young-forest or shrubland habitats on uplands next to streams, rivers, and other bodies of water, including up to the second bench above the watercourse.
    2. Young, open second-growth hardwoods in the seedling/sapling size class, which occurs from 2 to 15 years following clearcutting. There should be no dense ground cover beneath the trees, as bare ground is necessary for brood rearing.
    3. Pole-sized hardwoods that may have been growing for 15 to 25 years following clearcutting. Beneath the hardwoods there should be a dense shrub layer: examples include aspen with a hazel understory; or alder, larch, or aspen with scattered firs.
    4. Where nesting habitats overlap feeding areas, woodcock will nest on drier sites, such as those supporting alder up to 10 to 15 feet in height.
  3. Characteristics:
    1. Woodcock will use areas as small as 1 acre. However, 5-acre units lend themselves to more efficient management.
    2. The forest types that woodcock use for nesting are the same as those preferred for feeding areas.