The significance of roding by Woodcock Scolopax rusticola: an alternative explanation based on observations of marked birds.

Author Hirons, G.J.M.
Citation Hirons, G.J.M. (1980). The significance of roding by Woodcock Scolopax rusticola: an alternative explanation based on observations of marked birds. Ibis, 122: 350-354.

Abstract

Roding is a display or advertisement flight in which the male Woodcock Scolopax rusticola travels above the woodland canopy calling repeatedly. Although roding occurs at dusk and dawn throughout the long breeding season (in Britain, late February to July), its biological meaning is not well understood and published information on the nature of the pair bond among Woodcock is inconclusive (see Shorten 1974: 39).

Tester & Watson (1973) concluded, from plotting the positions of interactions between roding birds and supposed outer flight paths of presumed different (but unmarked) birds, that roding flights defined the boundaries of the breeding ranges of individual males. They therefore interpreted roding flights as displays defining territories, as previously suggested by Warwick & van Sommeren (1936). This explanation is generally accepted.

On the other hand, both Steinfatt (1938) and Nemetschek (1977) have thought that roding served chiefly to find females ready to mate, and Hirons (1977), working on an area where some individuals were distinguished by voice, found that their roding grounds overlapped. The present paper reports observations of Woodcock fitted with radio-transmitters and confirms that roding areas are not exclusive. It appears that the real purpose of the male Woodcock's roding behaviour is to find or attract females with which to mate.

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