Moore, J. D., and D. G. Krementz. 2017. Migratory connectivity of American woodcock using band return data. Journal of Wildlife Management. 81:
American woodcock (Scolopax minor) are managed as a Central and an Eastern population. Band return data showing little crossover between populations or management regions has been used as biological justification for these Central and Eastern Management Regions. However, the observed proportion of crossover between management regions depends on the criteria used to subset the band return dataset. We analyzed the amount of crossover between management regions using only band return records that represent complete migrations between the breeding and wintering grounds by using only band return records in which the capture took place during the breeding season and the encounter took place during the wintering season or vice versa (n = 224). Additionally, we applied spatial statistics and a clustering algorithm to investigate woodcock migratory connectivity using this subset of migratory woodcock band return records. Using raw counts, 17.9% of records showed crossover between management regions, a higher proportion than the <5% crossover found in studies that did not use only migratory band returns. Our results showed woodcock from the breeding grounds in the Central Region largely migrate to destinations within the Central Region, whereas woodcock from the breeding grounds in the Eastern Region migrate to destinations across the entire wintering range and mix with individuals from the Central Region. Using the division coefficient, we estimated that 54% of woodcock from the breeding grounds of the Eastern Region migrate to the Central Region. Our result that many woodcock from separate regions of the breeding grounds mix on the wintering grounds has implications for the present two-region basis for woodcock management. Elucidating finer scale movement patterns among regions provides a basis for reassessing the boundaries to ensure optimal conservation and management of the species.