Aves, p�le ornithologique de Natagora

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Aves, 56/1 | 2019 | 49-75

  A contribution on the population monitoring of Woodcocks Scolopax rusticola in the canton of Neuchâtel
(Switzerland)
Jean–Lou Zimmermann & Serge Santiago

Article is not available in pdf French article available for download in 2021

Article summary

Since 2001, there has been a continuous census of the breeding population of Woodcocks Scolopax rusticola in three sectors of the Canton of Neuchâtel (Switzerland).We used the classic system of counting the overflights of male birds during roding, plus the bioacoustic analysis of their characteristic songs and, since 2012, the recognition of 69 individual birds that have been ringed with a colour code. This combination of complementary approaches allows an accurate estimate to be made of the numbers of male birds, distinguishing each year between local individuals found regularly in a given sector and regional individuals, observed only occasionally. Colour ringing reveals other aspects of the life of nesting birds, such as the fidelity of male birds to a particular nesting–site year after year, the patterns of behaviour in space and time and the moult until the point of departure on migration and the impact of the hunting 'take'. In two of the three sectors the numbers of contacts decreased over the years, while in the third sector, numbers remained approximately constant. Between 2001 and 2018, the median number of overflights decreased by 20 to 30 percents. In the same period the estimated number of local nesting birds decreased by between 51 and 64 percent in all three sectors. Since some breeding pairs may remain until mid–November in the Neuchâtel mountains, they are affected by hunting, which starts in October. At least ten percent of ringed birds were shot within 12 km from where they had been ringed. These results clearly make the case for a moratorium on hunting and for the creation of more extensive and more attractive «tranquil areas», so as to ensure a viable population of Woodcock in the Canton for the foreseeable future.

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