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Effect of Egg Covering and Habitat on Nest Destruction by House Wrens

Douglas W. White and E. Dale Kennedy
The Condor
Vol. 99, No. 4 (Nov., 1997), pp. 873-879
DOI: 10.2307/1370137
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1370137
Page Count: 7
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Effect of Egg Covering and Habitat on Nest Destruction by House Wrens
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Abstract

Birds nesting near House Wrens (Troglodytes aedon) risk having their eggs, nestlings, and nests destroyed. Damage by wrens may be reduced in Black-capped Chickadees (Parus atricapillus), Tufted Titmice (P. bicolor), and other parids by concealing eggs under nest material during the laying period, and in sympatric cavity-nesting species by nesting in different habitats from wrens. To test if eggs were protected by covering, prelaying wrens were challenged for 1 day with a set of two boxes placed 1 m from their nest, one with two artificial eggs (miniature marshmallows) lightly covered under fur, the other with two artificial eggs in an open cup. Results varied with stage of nest-building; in 41 trials where both exposed eggs were removed, covered eggs remained in only 4 of 15 (27%) trials near early nests containing few sticks, but in 17 of 26 (65%) trials near more advanced nests. To assess effects of nest site, a box with a cup nest was placed in each of three habitats 10 or 20 m from 29 wren nests. After 1 day of habituation, two artificial eggs were placed in each nest and left exposed for 1 day. Boxes in woodland interiors were less likely than boxes in fields and along edges to be visited by wrens at least once over 2 days (66 vs. 97% visited) and were less likely to have eggs removed (10 vs. 83% removed). Competitors for nesting cavities also may escape attacks by wrens through differences in breeding period, active defense of territories or nests, or renesting.

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