Predation may cause important losses to the biodiversity of small islands. In this study we analysed the predation pressure on clutches of nesting birds in two islands of the Zadar Archipelago, Olib and Silba, which belong to an Important Bird Area (IBA) in Croatia. We paid special attention to introduced mammals: black rats Rattus rattus and feral domestic cats Felis silvestris catus. In May 2009, we carried out a study with artificial ground and bush nests. One quail egg and a plasticine egg of similar size were placed in each nest. On Olib, the daily survival rate of quail eggs in ground nests (0.92) was similar to that of nests located in shrubs (0.93), whereas on Silba the daily survival rates of quail eggs in ground (0.94) and shrub nests (0.86) were significantly different. We used the marks left on the plasticine eggs to identify nest predators. Many eggs in shrub nests (40% on Olib and 70% on Silba) were predated by hooded crows Corvus cornix. In ground nests on Olib, 43% of eggs were predated by hooded crows and small mammals, mainly black rats. On Silba Island, eggs in 33% of the ground nests were damaged by the above predators and also by the Montpellier snake Malpolon monspessulanus. Contrary to our expectations, feral cats were not found to be egg predators on either of the islands.
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Vol. 62 • No. 2