Comparative breeding behavior of European and American Woodcock.
The courtship displays and mating systems of Philohela minor and Scolopax rusticola are compared. Male Philohela are apparently promiscuous and display solitarily above small forest openings, areas which they defend against other males and in which mating takes place. Male Scolopax are successive polygynists: they defend neither an exclusive nor a specific area to which females are attracted, but instead perform extensive display flights above the forest canopy in search of females. When a receptive female is found, the male accompanies her constantly for several days prior to clutch completion before resuming display flights. The evolution of the polygynous mating systems found in these two species, and the ecological factors that may have favored the observed differences, are discussed. We believe that more research is needed, particularly on the behavior and significance of subdominant males.