White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) were videotaped depredating four songbird nests in grassland habitats in southeastern and northcentral North Dakota, 1996–1999. Deer ate two Savannah sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis), two grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum), one clay-colored sparrow (Spizella pallida), one red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) and three brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater) nestlings. Deer removed nestlings quickly (5–19 sec/nest) at night (22:00 to 05:17 Central Daylight Time) and left no evidence of predation. Although probably opportunistic, deer predations clearly were deliberate and likely are more common than generally believed.
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Vol. 144 • No. 2