Woodcock banding 

Just for info purposes, I have  banding permit since 1983.

Woodcock banding recovering. October 10, 1987.

 

To accomplish this most delicate task, I've always been very anal about my dogs behaviour in the field. They have to comply to call backs and  ''Down'' command at a rate of 100%. Without these basic rules, the work becomes risky, and it's something I am nothing willing to let slide. In my own opinion, for a dog to become a somewhat broke assistant bander, it has to have a minimum of 2 years experience hunting in the field.

My woodcock banding season spring 2008

                                                                Find chicks "one day" in this type of environment, it's similar to look for a needle in a haystack.

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Woodcock banding in France (Brittany)  

Spring 2009

Woodcock banding adult it's night shift.

                              

           Picture: JM GAU

 

Woodcock banding

Three woodcock chicks (one day).

Since the spring of 1983, I have been practicing woodcock banding, and I use my dogs to find them.

Why would someone practice woodcock banding ? There is more than one reason. In fact. Here is two reasons. why I'm attracted to this practice, first, I'm studying their migratory flyway patterns, and second, I'm interested in the species habits and longevity. On a few occasions, I had the privilege of having my daughter as a banding partner, she had the opportunity of banding one bird. Four of the chicks I banded were harvested the following fall.

Bird banding data are useful in both research and management projects. Individual identification of birds makes possible studies of dispersal and migration, behavior and social structure, life-span and survival rate, reproductive success and population growth.

I was able to harvest during hunting season of the same year, 2 chicks that I had banded myself the previous spring

 

April 6, 1999, the weather was mild, so I went out scouting with Zouky to snap some pictures of woodcocks, maybe find a few nests and band some chicks. Zouky went on point at 09:42; a woodcock took flight very oddly as if it had eggs or chicks. I had the feeling that something was wrong. We looked at this hen walk away until it was out of site. We moved closer to take a look at this strange behavior. When we finally caught up to it, surprise! It was wounded at its left wing elbow. I picked it up in my hands and inspected its elbow scrupulously. This injury was recent. The elbow was fractured and blood was trickling, very liquid. The mandible of this hen was impregnated with dried soil.

Why was this bird injured? I could only assume:

1: It could’ve hit a branch while flying off, but not likely.

2: In this area, there is some power line pylons. It might’ve hit high-tension wires.

3: Possibility of depredation?

This hen could not have fractured its wing during courtship because hens do not participate in this activity; flying Skyward is reserved for cocks. I went back to my car with Scolopax minor in my right hand, I went home to drop Zouky off in her kennel, and I took a cardboard box and placed the woodcock in it and soon after I was on my way to the SPCA. The employee at the SPCA filled a report and relieved me from the bird to put it in a safer and more comfortable place. The SPCA has a specific section reserved for wildlife.

Here is a copy of the document that the employee at the SPCA issued me.

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MICHIGAN INCLUDED IN 3 YEAR, 3 STATE WOODCOCK MORTALITY STUDY
By Linda Gallagher

With the first warm breezes of March, woodcock will be returning soon to the state of Michigan from their winter haunts in southern states, many of them to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where a bevy of scientists are eagerly looking forward to their return, and the start of Michigan’s participation in a comprehensive three year, three state study of the effects of hunting on woodcock mortality.

Expected to cost $670,000, which is being funded by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Office of Migratory Birds, as well as the various state departments of natural resources, and the Ruffed Grouse Society, research will also take place in the states of Wisconsin and Minnesota, which along with Michigan are the primary breeding grounds of woodcock in the Midwest.

Minnesota began their study last fall, while Michigan and Wisconsin will begin this year after acquiring additional funding from the respective state game agencies.

While most officials and scientists agree that the continuing decline in woodcock numbers in both the Eastern and Central Flyways of the U.S. is due primarily to the loss of habitat in both northern breeding grounds and southern wintering grounds in Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas, the study will determine the impact that hunting may possibly be having on the species.

“It will be the most extensive study of woodcock in the Great Lakes area that I’m aware of,“ said Steve Wilds, USFWS regional migratory bird biologist at Fort Snelling, Minnesota. “Singing ground surveys, begun in 1968, show that populations have continued to decline, but we haven’t been able to accurately determine the cause of the problem. Mostly, we think habitat is the primary culprit, but we haven’t been able to rule out the long-term effects of hunting a declining population.”

Daily bag limits throughout the eastern U.S. were reduced from 5 birds per hunter per day to 3 birds per hunter per day in 1999, but Canada still allows hunters to harvest up to 8 woodcock per day.

John Bruggink, who not long ago took over the position of now-retired Northern Michigan University woodcock researcher Dr. Bill Robinson, will be heading up the study in Michigan’s UP. A former student of Robinson’s, Bruggink spent several years of his career researching woodcock with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

With the assistance of NMU wildlife biology students and graduate students, Bruggink will begin trapping a total of 120 woodcock this summer, 60 in an area open to hunting, and 60 in an area that is closed to wingshooters. All 120 birds will be fitted with small radio collars equipped with mortality sensors, which will be monitored several times a week. Trapping and radio-collaring will be finished before the start of the 2002 Michigan woodcock season in late September.

Transmitters on the collars rarely last more than six months or so, which will make it necessary to trap new birds each year of the study.

Hunters will be asked to return the radio collars of harvested birds, and birds that survive the season or are trapped and collared in the non-hunted area will be tracked as they migrate south for the winter. Although scientists will attempt to track the woodcock as they make their way back from southern wintering grounds, doing so successfully will be difficult, said Wilds. “We doubt that the transmitters will hold up that long, but we’re hoping to get some information back.”

Airplanes will be used in Michigan to track transmitter signals, as ground monitoring is often difficult to impossible in the wilderness terrain of much of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Although many wingshooters reported encouraging numbers of timberdoodles last fall throughout much of the state, according to scientists the popular gamebirds have declined by as much as 50% since 1981 in some areas of the Michigan study zone, which will be primarily located in Dickinson, Marquette, and Iron Counties, one of Michigan’s most popular woodcock hunting are

 

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          Last Update: December 27, 2014