The roding behaviour of the European Woodcock Scolopax rusticola - an alternative hypothesis.
The biological meaning of roding behaviour is not well understood and there is no published information on whether the woodcock is polygamous or forms pair bonds.
Tester and Watson (1973) concluded from plotting the positions of Interactions between roding birds and supposed outer flight paths of presumed (but unmarked) individuals that roding flights defined the boundaries of individual male's breeding ranges. Therefore, they proposed that roding flights should be considered as displays defining possible territories as previously suggested by Warwick and van Someren and this interpretation is now generally accepted. However, both Steinfatt and Nemetschek thought the display flights served chiefly to find females ready to mate, and Hirons, working on an area where some individuals were distinguishable by voice, found that their roding grounds overlapped. The aim of this paper, based on preliminary observations of woodcock fitted with radio-transmitters, is to confirm that roding areas are not exclusive and that the real purpose of the male woodcock's roding behaviour is to find or attract females with which to mate.