[CT Birds] Critical Waterbird Nesting Time

Chris Elphick elphick at sbcglobal.net
Fri Jun 7 07:40:35 EDT 2013

I didn't follow this whole thread, and we have only done
limited analyses of plover/tern data, but Min is correct that there is evidence
that fencing seems to help with getting plover chicks out of the nest
successfully.  What that means in terms of recruitment to the next
generation is far less certain, mostly because we lack good data on post-hatch

Patrick mentioned some differences between CT and elsewhere and I'd like to add
one more.  A few years ago we did some experiments with artificial nests
(containing commercially-obtained quail eggs) on beaches.  This approach
is often used to assess things like predation levels, trampling rates,
etc.  In those experiments we found phenomenally high levels of predation
on CT beaches.  Artificial nest experiments are probably not ideal for
estimating real-nest predation rates (although they are probably better for
beach nesting birds than most species), but they are probably pretty good for
comparing relative rates between different areas.  The egg predation rates
in our study were several times higher than in similar artificial nest
experiments conducted on Cape Cod.  

I certainly would not want to downplay the need to reduce human disturbance
near nests, but I came away from that study convinced that the main problem
faced by plovers and terns in this state is the number of crows and mammals
(cats, skunks, raccoons, foxes, etc.) on beaches.  Although I cannot be
certain why predation rates are so high in CT it is probably a combination of
the degree of urbanization around the state's beaches, plus maybe their small
size - which tends to concentrate people and thus lead to a higher density of
food trash.


Chris Elphick

Storrs, CT

elphick at sbcglobal.net

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