Photo: FLLT

Afoot in the Field (Vol 2, Issue 2)

Download:  Afoot in the Field, Volume 2, Issue 2 (PDF)

Published Summer 2011


From the Introduction:

“I owned my farm for two years before learning that the sky dance is to be seen over my woods every evening in April and May. Since we discovered it, my family and I have been reluctant to miss even a single performance. … The stage props, like the opening hour, reflect the temperamental demands of the performer. The stage must be an open amphitheater in woods or brush, and in its center there must be a mossy spot, a streak of sterile sand, a bare outcrop of rock, or a bare roadway.”

– Aldo Leopold (A Sand County Almanac, 1949)

Hearing a woodcock in the spring for the first time, or having one flush as you unknowingly step close to a clutch of eggs in thick grass or to a hiding hermit in the brush, is certainly a special treat.  The telltale “peent” of the male, preparing for his spring courtship flight, is a sound of comfort that connects modern life with bygone days.

Like so many native species with particular habitat requirements, the likelihood that my grandchildren will be able to enjoy these animals is dependent on the continued availability of those special and particular habitats.  In the case of woodcock, it is early-successional habitat.  More specifically, it is a mix of openings in fields or forests where the males sing and conduct their courtship flights; areas with thick shrub or young tree stems that provide dense cover; proximity to moist soils where earthworms can easily be plucked; young forests for nesting; and patchy areas with more openings for roosting.  If this sounds like a complex mosaic of habitat types, it is.  But it is also a mosaic that is relatively common throughout the Finger Lakes, or has the potential to be.  With our great diversity of land cover types, there is great potential for fostering the right habitat requirements for many types of preferred native animals.

In this issue we are grateful to Lance Ebel, a wildlife and forestry professional with Newleaf Environmental, for contributing his article about habitat management for woodcock and other early- successional species, as well as his beautiful line drawing of a “timberdoodle”.

Download:  Afoot in the Field, Volume 2, Issue 2 (PDF)

You can download Afoot in the Field, our biannual stewardship pamphlet for landowners, in PDF format.  See all issues here.