RUMFORD — Hunters, bird watchers and naturalists are encouraged to enter their woodcock activity reports this fall and winter into a national mapping system.
As the birds return north, bird dog trainers and bird watchers again will be able to enter reports until April 30, Ron Burkert, society webmaster, said in a Tuesday news report.
According to the Maine Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society website, a woodcock is 10 to 12 inches long (a little longer than a bobwhite quail), has a standing height of about 5 inches and a wingspan of up to 20 inches.
Its body is described as chunky — as in short and heavy — with a short, thick neck and a large head and long, narrow beak. Woodcock dine mainly on earthworms, but also eat insects.
Maine's woodcock hunting season is from Oct. 1 through Nov. 14.
The society started providing real-time tracking of the annual American woodcock migrations in 2006, partnering with Waterfowler.com, the online authority in waterfowl migration tracking.
The advanced Geographic Information System mapping system relies on daily migration data provided by hunters and bird watchers, Burkert said.
Users simply enter the zipcode for the area they're reporting on, select if the woodcock activity in that area is light, medium, heavy or at its peak, and submit.
A link is provided to access the U.S. Postal Service zip code directory based on the nearest town name to the activity.
“This mapping is provided as part of a mapping tool for various waterfowl groups, doves and American woodcock," Burkert said.
Data is collected and displayed for 24-hour periods. Historical maps of the prior day, week, month and season are also provided. Links to the feature are available from the society’s home page www.ruffedgrousesociety.org or directly at www.ruffedgrousesociety.org/migration-map.
Burkert said that a new twist developed, tested and improved in 2011-12, will make reporting more convenient via Android phones.
Waterfowler.com produced a Migration Map app that is available free for the Android platform, he said.
"This mobile app will keep you in constant touch with the daily Migration Map and also allow you to input your woodcock, and waterfowl, activity reports from the field at any time," Burkert said.
To download the app, click the Migration/waterfowler.com button on the RGS mapping page or visit: play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=eyephonegroup.waterfowler. An iPhone app is in the works, he said.
Established in 1961, the Ruffed Grouse Society is the one international wildlife conservation organization dedicated to promoting conditions suitable for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and related wildlife to sustain the sport hunting tradition and outdoor heritage.