by Carl Strang
Two years ago I posted my first report on woodcocks at Mayslake Forest Preserve. That year there were two displaying males, and my impression was that the habitat was marginal.
Last year there were none displaying on the few evenings I checked for them. Last week I led a night hike group into the most likely area for woodcocks, and we heard peents by 2-3 males. They were between the north savanna and Route 83, noisy with traffic but with enough open brush that nesting is conceivable.
Two days ago the birds’ choices became restricted by a prescribed burn. This was long overdue. It was concentrated in the savanna.
The burn area also included some of the male woodcocks’ dancing ground.
Some adjacent unburned areas could work as nesting habitat.
Other brushy areas, though the fire came right up to them, remain viable.
Maybe I’m being a cockeyed optimist, but given that this burn was badly needed, helping in the battle against invasive plants, I remain hopeful that negative impacts on species such as the woodcock were minimal.