Marsh Rice Rat, Oryzomys palustris, Predation on Forster's Tern, Sterna forsteri, Eggs in Coastal North Carolina

John H. Brunjes, W. David Webster


Nesting success of Forster’s Terns (Sterna forsteri) was examined on two small islands in the Cedar Island area of North Carolina. Forster’s Terns laid an average of 2.1 eggs per nest (n = 50) on Chainshot Island and 2.1 eggs per nest (n = 43) on Harbor Island in clutches that consisted of 1 to 3 eggs. On Chainshot Island every egg (n = 107) was lost to predation. On Harbor Island, 72 of 92 eggs were preyed upon. A trapping program, initiated on both islands, yielded 32 Marsh Rice Rats (Oryzomys palustris). Stomach contents of 23 rats were inspected, with 92.3% from Chainshot Island and 70% of the stomachs from Harbor Island containing yolk and feathers of Forster’s Terns.


Forster's Tern; Sterna forsteri; Marsh Rice Rat; Oryzomys palustris; eggs; nesting success; predation; North Carolina

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