Quantifying detection probability of American woodcock (Scolopax minor) on transects sampled with thermal cameras

Luke F. Gray, Darin J. McNeil, Jeffery T. Larkin, Halie A. Parker, Dakotah Shaffer, Jeffery L. Larkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Developing effective monitoring techniques for sensitive wildlife populations is essential for improving conservation outcomes. The American woodcock (Scolopax minor; hereafter woodcock) is an upland migratory game bird traditionally surveyed by documenting displaying males in spring. Surveys of displaying males are limiting in a variety of important ways such as brief detection window and male-centric observations. Thermal technology may overcome limitations of traditional monitoring techniques by increasing detections of non-singing woodcock, however, the efficacy of thermal imaging for detecting woodcock remains unknown. To quantify woodcock detection probability using thermal imaging, we deployed and searched for heat-emitting woodcock mounts along transects within early-successional habitats in central Pennsylvania during 2020. We deployed 110 woodcock mounts and successfully detected 63 (57.2%). Detection rate declined as a function of increasing vegetation density and distance from transect. Although detection probability of woodcock was imperfect, thermal cameras may provide a solution for researchers aiming to assess presence or density of woodcock when coupled with analytical methods that account for imperfect detection.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1417
JournalWildlife Society Bulletin
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Wildlife Society Bulletin published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of The Wildlife Society.


  • American woodcock
  • Scolopax minor
  • detection probability
  • old field
  • thermal
  • timber harvest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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