Green Visions: using hunting dogs to conserve birds

Jul 3, 2019

Riley: a very good boy
Credit NRRI

They're not letting Riley near the woodcock chicks.

But Riley probably doesn't care; he's doing what he's been trained (or is that re-trained?) to do: find woodcocks, point 'em out, and leave the rest to the humans.

Riley's nose means Ryan Steiner, the bird study field crew leader; NRRI wildlife ecologist Alexis Grinde and Riley's partner, Debbie Peterson (also a part-time field technician) can search seven miles of forest looking for the almost invisible birds, in the time it would take a person alone to cover one.

Woodcock, blending into the forest floor
Credit Rodney Campbell/Flickr

Debbie Peterson and her specially-trained Gordon Setter, Riley
Credit NRRI

And finding the woodcocks means a chance to tag the chicks with tiny transmitters ... and learn more about the kinds of habitat that mean success for their population.  That's significant because numbers of woodcock, golden-winged warblers and veerys are all on the decline throughout their breeding ranges.

Ryan Steiner
Credit NRRI

Birders (with or without their hunting dogs) can get more information on this special certification by checking out the woodcock banding program page at Pineridge Grouse Camp.  They offer a spring program every year where representatives from the American Bird Conservancy, American Woodcock Society-Pineridge Chapter and the US Fish & Wildlife are on hand to certify dogs and bird banders.

And you can read more about Riley and Deb here.