First Record of White-tailed Deer Depredating Saltmarsh Sparrow Nests
John A. Herbert1,*, James M. O’Neill2, Deirdre E. Robinson3, Joel Eckerson4, and Steven E. Reinert5
1Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, Division of Fish and Wildlife, 277 Great Neck Road, West Kingston, RI 02892. 274 Aaron Avenue, Bristol, RI 02809. 334 Sullivan Lane, Bristol, RI 02809. 4751 Oak Street, North Dighton, MA 02764. 511 Talcott Street, Barrington, RI 02806. *Corresponding author.
Northeastern Naturalist, Volume 30, Issue 1 (2023): N1–N7
Ammospiza caudacuta (Saltmarsh Sparrow) is a salt marsh-nesting obligate species of greatest conservation concern due to decreasing populations and probable future threats, such as climate change-induced sea-level rise. Low reproductive success is a limiting factor to population growth for the species due to flooding, habitat loss, and predation. To further understand the effects of predation on nesting Saltmarsh Sparrows, we deployed camera traps at monitored nests in Jacob’s Point salt marsh, Warren, RI, during the 2022 breeding period. In 2 instances of observed nest failure, camera traps captured the apparent depredation of eggs by Odocoileus virginianus (White-tailed Deer). We believe these to be the first documented cases of Saltmarsh Sparrow nest predation by White-tailed Deer. This finding has implications for the conservation of Saltmarsh Sparrows and for future management strategies aimed at increasing breeding success.
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