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Breeding success in a Red Bishop (Euplectes orix) colony in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, and its relation to nest site characteristics

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Data are presented on breeding success of Red Bishops (Euplectes orix) collected over four breeding seasons at a colony in the Addo Elephant National Park, Eastern Cape, South Africa. Overall hatching and fledging success were 53.8% and 26.0% of all eggs laid, respectively, and the overall mean number of fledglings per breeding attempt was 0.77. Hatching and fledging success varied significantly among seasons, with both clutch and brood losses due to predation being the main reason for the observed differences. Hatching success also differed significantly among clutch sizes, being highest for four-egg clutches (63.2%), intermediate for three-egg clutches (55.5%) and lowest for two-egg clutches and five-egg clutches (33.2% and 34.3%, respectively). However, fledging success was not significantly different among clutch sizes. The mean number of fledglings per breeding attempt was 0.44 for two-egg clutches, 0.80 for three-egg clutches, 1.10 for four-egg clutches, and 0.57 for five-egg clutches. The height of accepted nests (i.e.nests in which at least one egg was laid) was significantly lower than the height of nests not accepted. In addition, accepted nests in which eggs hatched and young fledged were significantly lower than accepted nests in which no eggs hatched and no young fledged. These overall effects of nest height on nest acceptance and hatching and fledging success were, however, due only to nests built above water, since no such effects were found when nests built above ground (i.e.on dry land) were analysed separately. I detected no effect of nest coverage on the probability of a nest being accepted, nor was there any effect of nest coverage on hatching or fledging success. Nests above water were significantly more likely to be accepted than nests above ground; however, hatching and fledging success of nests that were accepted did not differ significantly between nests built above water and those built above ground.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2004

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