Effects of a Supplemental Food Source and Nest Density on Success of Artificial Ground Nests

Nest predation can limit avian recruitment and may be a proximate source of population declines in many avian populations. Because nest predation may be affected by availability of alternative foods and nest density, we used artificial nests and track counts to evaluate effects of supplemental food and nest density on nest success of artificial ground nests. Nest success was lower at 7 of 9 nest density classes when a supplemental food source was present. In the absence of supplemental food, nest success was inversely related to nest density, but when supplemental food was present, there was no relationship between nest density and nest success. Increased predation rates associated with supplemental food and a lack of a nest density effect suggested that impacts of nest density on nest success were minimized by the supplemental food. Moreover, supplemental food affected nest success for ≥255 m, the maximum distance a nest was placed from a feeder. Although some researchers have suggested that providing supplemental food near nesting habitat might help reduce predation on ground nests, we believe that placement of supplemental food within nesting habitat attracts predators and will likely have a detrimental effect on nest success.

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