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Game Bird Management Plan. Bird Group. James Detraz, Amber Frye Kim Hippensteel and Nick Kafcas. Ruffed Grouse Management Plan. Neithercut Woodland. By Kim Hippensteel. Bonasa umbellus Weight: about 1.5 lb Wingspan: 20-25 in Mottled brown & grey with light belly

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Game Bird Management Plan

Bird Group

James Detraz, Amber Frye

Kim Hippensteel

and Nick Kafcas


Ruffed Grouse Management Plan

Neithercut Woodland

By Kim Hippensteel

ruffed grouse
Bonasa umbellus

Weight: about 1.5 lb

Wingspan: 20-25 in

Mottled brown & grey with light belly

Named for ruffs on sides of neck

Long, square tail

Males typically larger

Ruffed Grouse

Adult female

habitat requirements
Habitat Requirements

Need a year-round supply of food, cover, drumming and nesting sites, and snowfall

Drumming sites are needed about every acre

For Neithercut Woodland property, approximately 80 ruffed grouse could be sustainable with total acreage

what s for dinner
What’s for dinner?

Buds, twigs, catkins, leaves, ferns, soft fruits, acorns, some insects, oak galls

Young mostly insectivorous

Buds are especially important in winter


How males attract mates

Occurs in spring

Logs, stumps, boulders, elevated roots, even snowdrifts

Starts slow

Gradually becomes a blur of sound

baby birdies
Nest near base of tree or stump

Made of leaves, looks like a bowl

7-16 eggs

Male plays no role, female’s is tiny

Young leave nest within 24 hours

Completely leave family circle by four months

Most die by first winter

Baby Birdies
winter habits
No migration

Live in same small area year-round

Populations have ten-year cycles

Diet changes

More buds

Grow snowshoes

Good rabbit habitat = good grouse habitat

Dig/fly straight into snowdrifts



Winter Habits

Cut down several trees near aspen stands to create small irregular edges

Cut diseased oak to provide year-round habitat and food

Plant bushy under-story cover (June berry, witch hazel, etc)

Commercial timber harvest in irregular pattern of 10 acres every 10 years

One drumming log per acre

Diameter of at least 7.5 in

Average length of 20 feet

current status
Current Status

There is no evidence to show that ruffed grouse are or are not present at Neithercut at this time


wild turkey range and sub species type
Wild Turkey Rangeand Sub-Species Type

Wild turkeys are common in every state except Alaska

Huntable populations in every state containing turkeys

Four sub-species of turkeys in the U.S.



Rio Grande

Osceola (Florida)

Two additional sub-species exist in Mexico and Central America



In Michigan:

Eastern sub-species only

history and background
History and Background
  • Prior to European settlement, wild turkeys were common in lower Michigan
  • Provided a food source for Native Americans and early settlers.
  • As settlement expanded throughout the 1800’s, lands were cleared and the wild turkey began to be exploited for food and commercial value.
  • By 1900 the wild turkey was eradicated from Michigan
  • 1920’s - MDNR was established, Game Division
  • 1954 – 1st successful reintroduction effort, Allegan County
  • 1965 – 1st wild turkey hunting season
  • 1980’s – Major expansion and reintroduction (exponential growth).
wild turkey timeline


Wild Turkey Timeline















Pittman-Robertson Act established

1st hunting season in modern times


DNR established

Turkeys extripated from Michigan

Michigan became a state

Wild turkeys restored

Wild turkeys common

Game Division established, first wildlife biologist hired

1st successful Wild Turkey restoration attempt

Expanded wild turkey restoration efforts

Last Turkey Recorded

MDNR 2005

current status1
Current Status
  • The wild turkey is once again a thriving species on the Michigan Landscape numbering > 140,00 birds state wide.
  • Within Clare County, including Neithercut Woodland wild turkeys are very common.
  • Spring and fall hunting seasons.
  • Fall seasons indicate large numbers of birds.
    • Harvesting hens to control population growth

Woodcock Management Plan

Neithercut Woodland


american woodcock

American Woodcock

Scolopax minor

  • Migratory game species
  • Breeding range includes all of Michigan
  • Male breeding territories
  • Nocturnal habits
  • Offspring development
  • Feeding habits
migration patterns
Migration Patterns
  • Woodcock follow the Atlantic route for migration (Sheldon 1967)
  • In spring migration, the routes are followed North
  • In fall migration, the routes are followed South
breeding range
  • The breeding range includes much of the eastern United States
  • All of Michigan is included in the breeding range

Courtesy of Keppie and Whiting 1994

breeding range1
  • The U.P. contains the areas of greatest recorded woodcock abundance
  • CURRENT STATUS: The area of Clare County shows abundance of a mean between 4 and 10 singing males per route.

Male woodcock abundance based on singing-ground survey routes (Keppie and Whiting 1994)

male breeding territories
Male Breeding Territories
  • Upon arrival in spring, males set up a territory for breeding.
  • The area is near potential nesting sites of females.
  • Intruding males are chased away and cackled at with a cac-cac-cac call.
  • Females willingly enter the breeding area.

nocturnal habits
Nocturnal Habits
  • All migration occurs at night.
  • Males perform mating displays at dawn and dusk.
  • On nights with considerable light, mating displays will be performed all night.

mating displays
Mating Displays
  • Mating displays begin with peent and tuko notes.
  • After a series of notes, the woodcock will fly into the air.
  • Once above tree level, he will begin flying in rings until nearly out of sight.
  • At this height, he will stop climbing and let out a series of chirps.
  • He will then fly downward in a zigzag pattern continuing to chirp for the duration of his flight.
  • He then lands in the same general spot that he took off from and repeats the process until a mate arrives.

  • Typically 4 eggs, though 3 or 5 are possible.
  • Incubation period 20 to 22 days.
  • Hatching success rate of 67% (Sheldon 1967).
  • Brood reared solely by female, due to polygynous nature of male.
  • Broods separate 6 to 8 weeks after hatching (Johnsgard 1975).

feeding habits
Feeding Habits
  • Diet consists mainly of earthworms.
  • Opportunistic feeder, will feed on many insects and even vegetation if needed.
  • Probes moist ground with beak for worms.


Wood Duck Management Plan

Neithercut Woodland

By Amber Frye


Wood Duck

  • Aix sponsa
  • Waterfowl game species
  • Distributed all across United States and in parts of Canada
  • Habitat includes forested woodlands near lakes, rivers, and vegetated wetlands
  • Minimum of 10 acres of continuous wetland or aquatic habitat
  • Migratory in the north and year-round resident in the south.



  • 1800’s – Wood duck populations suffered heavy losses from unregulated hunting and decimation of habitat. Exploited for highly decorative feathers and tasty meat.
  • 1918 – Enactment of the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act helped wood duck begin a slow recovery (ending of unregulated hunting and the protection of remaining habitat)
  • 1930’s – Nesting boxes help to boost numbers
  • 1940’s – Wood duck numbers are sustainable enough for conservative hunting

The wood duck is a true success story of proper game management


Food & Foraging


  • Insects
  • Aquatic invertebrates
  • Small fish
  • Other high-protein animal material
  • After six-weeks diet switches to all plant foods
  • Algae, watermeal, duckweed


  • Variety of nuts and fruits
  • Aquatic plants and seeds
  • Aquatic insects
  • Acorns and other forest material during the winter

Habitat Requirements

  • Minimum habitat size for the wood duck as follows:
  • 10 acres of contiguous wetland or other aquatic habitat
  • Close proximity to nesting habitat
  • Generous amounts of hardwoods surrounding area around water
  • Other habitat requirements:
  • Water levels of approximately 8 inches are ideal for wood duck foraging.
  • Must have a balance between good nesting habitat and good brood rearing habitat
  • Forested wetland habitat is the optimal habitat type



  • Nests in hollow cavities of trees or in nesting boxes
  • Nesting boxes have been used since the 1930’s in an effort to boost wood duck populations
  • Designed to allow wood ducks in and predators out
  • Mesh screen attached to the inside of the front wall to help young climb out
  • Anti-predator cone guard may be used underneath box as well

  • Additional nesting boxes may be needed if dump nesting occurs.


Wood Duck Box Construction





Brood Rearing Cover

  • Shallow water is a necessity for young to forage in
  • Heavily vegetated areas are best.
  • Aquatic plants serve as cover from predators

current status2
Current Status

Believed that wood ducks do not currently utilize Neithercut Woodland as nesting/brooding site

current status of neithercut ruffed grouse wild turkey woodcock and wood duck
Current Status of NeithercutRuffed Grouse, Wild Turkey, Woodcock and Wood Duck
  • Provides adequate habitat for game species.
    • Food (mast crops)
    • Water (Elm creek)
    • Cover/trees (roosting)
  • Lacking:
    • Nesting cover
    • Winter food sources
    • Forest clearings
management goals
Management Goals
  • Increase nesting cover for Wild Turkey, American Woodcock, and Ruffed Grouse
  • Install and maintain Wood Duck nesting boxes
  • Provide winter food sources for turkeys through implementation of small food plots
  • Establish/increase Native grasslands
    • Provide food and cover for young turkeys and edge habitat for nesting woodcock
  • Create small forest openings
    • Increase woodcock breeding grounds
    • Increase foraging habitat for fledgling turkeys
  • Winter turkey census
    • Population estimate
  • Spring census for singing male woodcock and drumming grouse
    • Population estimate
  • Create and maintain drumming sites and optimal food sources for ruffed grouse
management objectives
Management Objectives
  • Implement three small food plots
    • One 1 ha plot
    • One 0.8 ha plot
    • One 2h plot
    • Even mixture of buck wheat, millet, soy beans and sunflowers
  • Establish 2 ha of a mix of cool season grasses:
    • Orchard grass
    • Timothy grass
    • White clover
    • Increase nesting habitat and browse opportunities
  • Establish 2 ha of Native Grasslands
    • Big bluestem
    • Little bluestem
    • Indian grass
    • Switch grass
    • Provide food and cover for young turkeys and edge habitat for nesting woodcock
  • Create small forest opening/clearcuts
    • Increase woodcock breeding habitat
    • Create foraging habitat for fledgling turkeys

Big Bluestem

objectives continued
Objectives Continued
  • Expansion of open water area
    • Continuous 10 acres open water minimum
  • Wood duck nest box installation
    • Anti predator cones
    • Annual clean out
  • Establish 1 aspen stand of diverse age for every 20 acres
    • Saplings should be dense
  • Small amounts of clear-cutting near aspen stands
    • Five or six closely spaced trees
    • Irregular pattern
    • Cut diseased oaks for year round food and cover
    • Plant bushy understory cover
      • June berry
      • Witch hazel
      • Wild raspberry/blackberry
  • Commercial timber harvest
    • Ten hectares every ten years
  • Insure one drumming log per acre
    • Diameter of at least 7.5 inches
    • Minimum length of 5.5 feet

Long Term Objectives

  • Prescribed burning
  • Maintenance of wood duck boxes
      • Replace if needed
  • Annual censuses
  • Mowing of fields


Monitoring Techniques - Ruffed Grouse

  • Spring census of singing male ruffed grouse will need to be done to estimate breeding population.
  • Cutting down of one tree per acre of suitable habitat
    • May require the expertise of Forester to determine best places in aspen stands to do so
    • A commercial timber harvest would need to be coordinated through the forester to allow for understory growth and the healthiest blend of tree ages
  • Reintroductions aren’t necessary as, if the habitat is desirable, the grouse already present in the area will spread.


Monitoring Techniques - Wild Turkeys

  • Spring census of singing male turkeys will need to be done to estimate breeding population.

Monitoring Techniques - Woodcock

  • Spring census of singing male woodcocks will need to be done to estimate breeding population.
  • According to Sheldon (1967), there are 8 steps to perform the census.
  • A route must be selected in the area which is woodcock habitat.
  • The census must begin after all migrants have passed through and end before the peak of the hatch.
  • The count must be stated in a location of a known singing bird.
  • Stops must not be within 0.4 mile of each other.
  • A two minute listening period is required at each stop.
  • Peenting males and birds in courtship flight that are distinguishable from peenting males are counted.
  • The run should last only 35 minutes.
  • Runs should not be done in these conditions:
  • a.) Within two days of a full moon.
  • b.) When temperatures are below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • c.) When winds exceed 8 mph.
  • d.) In heavy rain or snow.


Monitoring Techniques - Wood Duck

  • Checking wood duck nesting boxes helps to determine the following:
  • Are the wood duck boxes being used?
    • By wood ducks or unwanted species?
  • Population estimates at Neithercut Woodland
  • Cleaning of previous year’s unusable nesting materials in preparation of coming breeding season


Monitoring Techniques - Wood Duck

  • Monitoring the availability of standing water must also be done.
  • If vegetation over grows too much of the wetland area, it must be removed through contracting of outside sources or through equipment rental.


Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold