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Research at St Andrews

Nest site selection and patterns of nest re-use in the Hooded Crow Corvus cornix

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Capsule: Hooded Crows Corvus cornix selected nesting trees based on species, height, grouping and distance from an occupied house. Nest re-use was common and pairs that re-used old nests produced more fledglings than those that built a new nest.
Aims: To determine the features of trees that influenced whether they were used by Hooded Crows as nest sites, to establish what factors influenced nest re-use between years and to explore potential costs or benefits of nest re-use.
Methods: In a large area of Orkney, Scotland, the features of trees that contained a Hooded Crow nest were compared to those of trees where nests were absent. Patterns of nest re-use between years were examined in relation to the availability of alternative sites, previous nesting success and the number of equivalent options to the tree used previously within 200 m of this site.
Results: Hooded Crows favoured spruce and pine trees as nest sites, above the most locally abundant tree species, elder and willow. Preference for trees increased with tree height, local tree density and distance from occupied houses. Over half of the crows studied re-used an old nest when one was available and crows that re-used an old nest fledged more offspring than those that built a new nest. The likelihood of a new nest being built increased as the number of potential locations to build increased. Territories where a nest survived the winter were more likely to be reoccupied the following year than those where nests fell, while territories with fewer trees around the old site were most likely to be abandoned, suggesting that those were territories of lower quality.
Conclusions: Hooded Crows displayed strong preferences for nest sites that might favour nesting success by offering concealment, shelter and protection from ground-based predators. Nest re-use was common, especially when alternative sites were scarce, and appeared to facilitate greater reproductive output.
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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-385
JournalBird Study
Volume64
Issue number3
Early online date8 Sep 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017

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