Egg removal and intraspecific brood parasitism in the European starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
- Cite this article as:
- Lombardo, M.P., Power, H.W., Stouffer, P.C. et al. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (1989) 24: 217. doi:10.1007/BF00295201
From 1983 to 1986 we monitored 284 European starling (Sturnus vulgaris) nests in New Jersey for evidence of intraspecific brood parasitism and egg removal during the laying period. Egg removal occurred significantly more often at nests where intraspecific brood parasitism was detected (12 of 35 nests, 34%) than at unparasitized nests (23 of 249 nests, 9%). Brood parasitism (92% of parasitized nests) and egg removal (74% of nests with egg removal) were most common at nests where egg laying began in April of each year (i.e., early nests). Egg removal occurred at 26 (19%) and brood parasitism at 32 (23%) of 138 early nests. Both brood parasitism and egg removal were concentrated during the first four days in the laying period when brood parasitism is most likely to be successful and when host nests are most vulnerable to parasitism (Romagnano 1987). Both parasitism and removal usually involved a single egg at each nest. We detected brood parasitism and egg removal on the same day at five of 12 nests (42%) where both were observed. Because starlings do not remove foreign eggs from their nests once they begin laying (Stouffer et al. 1987) we hypothesize that parasite females sometimes removed host eggs while parasitizing nests.