The outsiders: American Woodcock movements and migratory patterns in the Great Plains of North America


102 – 110

1 August 23

Stephen J. Brenner, Joel G. Jorgensen


Stephen J. Brenner
National Audubon Society – Great Plains Region, Gering, NE 69341, USA


Public Files

The American Woodcock Scolopax minor is a migratory forest-dwelling shorebird and a popular game species in eastern North America that has declined over much of its range. The Great Plains, including Nebraska, is a region where the species’ range has expanded, but where little research has been conducted. GPS tracking technology has extended ornithologists’ knowledge about American Woodcock movements and migratory ecology within eastern and central North America. However, no tracking studies have yet focused on this species in the Great Plains. We captured 15 American Woodcock during spring at sites in central and eastern Nebraska in 2021–2022 and tracked their movements using GPS satellite transmitters. Of the study birds, 73% (n = 11) migrated north of Nebraska after extended stopovers. Woodcock using more spring stopovers after departing capture sites in Nebraska had longer migration durations. Sites in Nebraska appear to serve a dual function as extended stopover sites and ephemeral breeding grounds, as evidence of breeding was noted at capture sites. Across all seasons, most migratory routes and summering grounds were concentrated along the western edge of the species’ continental range, adding key information about the migratory ecology of American Woodcock at the periphery in the Great Plains.