Predation by gray catbird on brown thrasher eggs

TitlePredation by gray catbird on brown thrasher eggs
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsRivers, JW, Sandercock, BK
JournalSouthwestern Naturalist
Pagination101 -103
Accession NumberKNZ00850

The gray catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) has been documented visiting and breaking the eggs of artificial nests, but the implications of such observations are unclear because there is little cost in depredating an undefended nest. During the summer of 2001 at Konza Prairie Biological Station, Kansas, we videotaped a gray catbird that broke and consumed at least 1 egg in a brown thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) nest. Our observation was consistent with egg predation because the catbird consumed the contents of the damaged egg after breaking it. The large difference in body mass suggests that a catbird (37 g) destroying eggs in a thrasher (69 g) nest might risk injury if caught in the act of predation and might explain why egg predation by catbirds has been poorly documented. Our observation indicated that the catbird should be considered as an egg predator of natural nests and that single-egg predation of songbird nests should not be attributed to egg removal by female brown-headed cowbirds (Molothrus ater) without additional evidence.