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1 March 2005 Behavioral Responses of Avian Scavengers in Different Habitats
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We examined the influence of habitat type (wooded, open, or edge) on behavioral responses of avian scavengers (Black Vultures [Coragyps atratus Bechstein], Turkey Vultures [Cathartes aura Linnaeus], American Crows [Corvus brachyrhynchos Brehm], and Blue Jays [Cyanocitta cristata Linnaeus]) at Gettysburg National Military Park (Gettysburg Park), PA, during winter of 2000 and 2001. We baited 18 sites once during January 2000–March 2000 and again during December 2000–March 2001 with the soft tissue of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus Zimmerman) for one 3-hour sampling period. We observed at least one scavenger species at bait areas (75-m radius of bait) in 97% of the 36 three-hour sampling periods; bait was eaten during 50% of the sampling periods. Turkey Vultures arrived first at bait areas most often, but American Crows were usually the species we observed eating the bait first. We observed Turkey Vultures most frequently (present in 14% of the 5-minute intervals) at bait areas, followed by American Crows (12%), Blue Jays (9%), and Black Vultures (6%). We observed Turkey Vultures, Black Vultures, and Blue Jays more commonly at bait areas in wooded habitat compared with those in open or edge habitat. In contrast, American Crows were more common at bait areas in open or edge habitat than in wooded habitat.

Turkey Vultures presumably were more vigilant (i.e., higher percentage of pausing) in wooded habitat than in open and edge habitat, Black Vultures were more vigilant in edge habitat, and American Crows were more vigilant in wooded and edge habitats than in open habitats. Because we observed Black Vultures more frequently at bait areas with Turkey Vultures than alone and Black Vultures arrived at bait areas later than the other species, Black Vultures seem to use the presence of other species, specifically Turkey Vultures, to find food.

Keely Tolley Roen and Richard H. Yahner "Behavioral Responses of Avian Scavengers in Different Habitats," Northeastern Naturalist 12(1), 103-112, (1 March 2005).[0103:BROASI]2.0.CO;2
Published: 1 March 2005

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