We are officially back in the field for Season 2 of #JerseyDoodles. During the 2018 season, we’re continuing to expand our efforts.
In 2016 we conducted a regional survey of potential woodcock habitat in across post-industrial and non-industrial habitat in Northern New Jersey. We learned woodcock do in fact use degraded habitat such as brownfields, areas that have been used by various forms of industry and abandoned (hence the other term, post-industrial).
In 2017, we doubled down on 3 sites representing a range of woodcock habitat available in New Jersey from degraded (post-industrial) and urban (fragments) to what I refer to as “New Jersey rural”. Probably nowhere else in the country would it count as rural, but as the most densely population state, we do what we can. Last year, 2017, was Season 1 for the project hashtag #JerseyDoodles (coined by @therealKevynJJ), and our pilot study for banding & telemetry work.
This year we’re following a similar structure except we’re starting earlier, we have more equipment, more training, we’re more prepared, and all of that means we’ll be able to operate 3 teams independently. So this year each site will have its own team responsible for observing and sciencing with woodcock.
Each night, weather permitting from now until some time in May, there will be a team out there watching the woodcock woo. This information will be able to help us answer such questions as:
- How long do birds stopover in New Jersey during migration?
- Are there distinguishing characteristics of the birds that remain?
- How do the populations of woodcock stopping over on each site differ from each other?
When we get a woodcock in the hand, we’ll be able to determine if it is male or female. Most of the birds we capture will be male because they’re the ones being noisy and conspicuous; females are much more cryptic. We can measure them, weigh them, and band them. The measurements, including weight will give us a good idea of how nice a catch they’d be considered to a female woodcock. Popping a band on them will let us know we’ve already caught them before (or some other scientist know that they made a pit stop in New Jersey). If we recapture one of our own birds we can learn how long it’s stuck around and if its gaining or losing weight from hanging out at that site.
There are some other components that will be taking place this season in addition to banding, but I’ll save sharing those for a later night.