Observations of territorial breeding common ravens caching eggs of greater sage-grouse

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Abstract

Previous investigations using continuous video monitoring of greater sage-grouse Centrocercus urophasianus nests have unambiguously identified common ravens Corvus corax as an important egg predator within the western United States. The quantity of greater sage-grouse eggs an individual common raven consumes during the nesting period and the extent to which common ravens actively hunt greater sage-grouse nests are largely unknown. However, some evidence suggests that territorial breeding common ravens, rather than nonbreeding transients, are most likely responsible for nest depredations. We describe greater sage-grouse egg depredation observations obtained opportunistically from three common raven nests located in Idaho and Nevada where depredated greater sage-grouse eggs were found at or in the immediate vicinity of the nest site, including the caching of eggs in nearby rock crevices. We opportunistically monitored these nests by counting and removing depredated eggs and shell fragments from the nest sites during each visit to determine the extent to which the common raven pairs preyed on greater sage-grouse eggs. To our knowledge, our observations represent the first evidence that breeding, territorial pairs of common ravens cache greater sage-grouse eggs and are capable of depredating multiple greater sage-grouse nests.

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Howe, K. B., & Coates, P. S. (2015). Observations of territorial breeding common ravens caching eggs of greater sage-grouse. Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. https://doi.org/10.3996/042014-JFWM-030

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