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Effects of the risk of competition and predation on large secondary cavity breeders

Charter, Motti, Izhaki, Ido, Leshem, Yossi
Journal für Ornithologie 2010 v.151 no.4 pp. 791-795
Corvus monedula, Falco tinnunculus, Otus, Passer domesticus, Tyto alba, breeding season, experimental design, nest boxes, nests, predation, risk
The effects of competition and risk of predation on secondary cavity breeders were examined between the 2008 and 2009 breeding seasons using an experimental design manipulating two nest entrance sizes (large entrances allowed Barn Owls (Tyto alba) to enter, while the small entrances excluded them). During the 2009 breeding season, the entrance sizes of nest boxes were exchanged, so that if during one year a nest box in a particular location had a small entrance, the second year it had a large entrance and vice versa. Barn Owls and Eurasian Kestrels (Falco tinnunculus) occupied 67.3 and 17.3%, respectively, of large entrance nest boxes. Significantly more Jackdaws (Corvus monedula), House Sparrows (Passer domesticus) and Scops Owls (Otus scops) bred in nest boxes with small than with large entrances. After nest box entrance sizes were exchanged, Barn Owls and smaller species did not breed in the same nest boxes with the new entrance size. Jackdaws probably did not breed in large entrance nest boxes due both to exploitation competition (Barn Owls and Eurasian Kestrels occupied the majority of large entrance nest boxes), and may also have avoided empty nest boxes because of the risk of interference competition; whereas smaller species may have also avoided large entrance nest boxes due to risk of predation.