Small mammals, such as mice and voles, have been implicated as major egg predators of Neotropical migrant passerines by field studies using soft plasticine eggs or the very small eggs of Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttata). Nevertheless, the effort required to depredate these commonly used egg surrogates may be less than that required to depredate the larger, thicker-shelled eggs of most passerine species. To compare the depredation of these surrogates to that of the eggs of a mid-sized passerine by a ubiquitous small predator, we exposed dissimilar pairs of plasticine, Zebra Finch, and House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) eggs to captive white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus). Plasticine eggs were marked by mice more than either kind of real egg, and Zebra Finch eggs were breached more often than House Sparrow eggs. We conclude that the use of either plasticine or Zebra Finch eggs may lead to overestimation of the ability or proclivity of small mammals to actually depredate the eggs of most passerines.
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Vol. 103 • No. 1