A comparison of the Characteristics and Fate of Barrow's Goldeneye and Bufflehead Nests in Nest Boxes and Natural Cavities
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Abstract. Barrow's Goldeneye (Bucephala islandica) and Bufflehead (B. albeola) are cavity-nesting waterfowl that have received considerable attention in studies using nest boxes, but little is known about their nesting ecology in natural cavities. We found larger clutch size, lower nesting success, and different major predators for Barrow's Goldeneyes nesting in boxes versus those nesting in natural cavities, but few differences for Bufflehead. These differencesa re attributedt o the location and physical differencesb etween Barrow's Goldeneyen est boxes and naturalc avities that affect theirc onspicuousnesst o predatorsa nd conspecific nest-parasitizingfe males. Goldeneyeb oxes were concentratedin highly visible locations such as trees at water or forest edge. Natural cavity nests, on the other hand, were often abandoned Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) cavities, which were more dispersed throughout the forest interior and concealed under dense canopy cover. Bufflehead natural cavity nests were typically closer to edges, which may account for their similarity with boxes. We conclude that in some respects, studies of Barrow's Goldeneye that use nest boxes may not be representativeo f birds nesting in naturalc avities, whereast hose of Bufflehead are more likely to be so.