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11 November 2022 Roseate Terns (Sterna dougallii) Frequently Desert Viable Eggs without Incubating Them
Ian C. T. Nisbet
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Roseate Terns (Sterna dougallii) frequently lay single eggs and desert them without incubating them. In a multi-year study, single deserted eggs comprised 4.2% of all clutches and 2.7% of all eggs. Laying dates and masses of single deserted eggs resembled those of first-laid eggs of female-male pairs and multi-female associations, but their masses differed from those of second-laid eggs of female-male pairs. An egg-transfer experiment showed that most single deserted eggs were fertile and that chicks hatched from them were viable when raised by female-male pairs. I hypothesize that single deserted eggs result from females laying their first eggs before the pair has settled on the location of a nest site. Fostering of single deserted eggs could be used to increase chick production in small colonies.

Ian C. T. Nisbet "Roseate Terns (Sterna dougallii) Frequently Desert Viable Eggs without Incubating Them," Waterbirds 45(1), 113-116, (11 November 2022).
Received: 21 May 2021; Accepted: 22 July 2022; Published: 11 November 2022
egg desertion
single deserted eggs
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