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Artificial Nests Identify Possible Nest Predators of Eastern Wild Turkeys
- Melville, Haemish I.A.S., Conway, Warren C., Morrison, Michael L., Comer, Christopher E., Hardin, Jason B.
- Southeastern naturalist 2014 v.13 no.1 pp. 80-91
- Corvus brachyrhynchos, Dasypus, Didelphis virginiana, Meleagris gallopavo, Picoides, Procyon lotor, cameras, crows, monitoring, nesting, nests, opossums, predation, predators, spring, turkeys, wild birds, woodpeckers, Texas
- Poor nest survival is a critical limiting factor in the recruitment of wild birds. Nest predation is often cited as one of the main causes of nest failure, especially for ground-nesting species. We monitored artificial Meleagris gallopavo silvestris (Eastern Wild Turkey) nests, using time-lapse and motion-sensitive trail cameras to determine which predators were likely to be responsible for preying on Wild Turkey nests in the Pineywoods of East Texas. Sixty-one percent of all artificial nests were preyed upon. Corvus brachyrhynchos (American Crow) preyed on 48% of artificial nests and Procyon lotor (Raccoon) preyed on 35%. There was a seasonal increase in the number of artificial nests preyed upon from spring to summer. Mammalian mesopredators, Raccoon and Didelphis virginiana (Opossum), were primarily responsible for this increase, suggesting an increase in search effort by mesopredators that coincided with increased dietary diversity in a period of reduced prey resources. Predators other than mesopredators—American Crows, Picoides sp. (woodpeckers), Dasypus novemcinctus (Nine-banded Armadillo), and snakes—were responsible for 53% of all predation on the artificial Wild Turkey nests, with American Crows being the most important of these. After nest deployment, American Crows located and preyed on artificial nests more quickly than other nest predators. We suggest video monitoring of natural Eastern Wild Turkey nests to confirm the identity of nest predators.