Saturday, October 31, 2020

Nature red in claw: how and why Starlings kill each other

TitleNature red in claw: how and why Starlings kill each other
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1992
AuthorsFlux, JEC, Flux, MM
Type of Articlepaper

In a 20-year nest box study of Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) in New Zealand, intraspecific fighting was the main mortality factor recorded. All fights were between birds of the same sex, 24 male-male and 22 female-female, and most were in the breeding season. Fighting increased as the population rose from about 300 birds in 1969 to over 3000 after 1978. Because of the low annual mortality rate of Starlings in New Zealand (330/0), the chances of ever breeding were small for many birds. Hence conditions were ideal for a high level of fatal fighting, which took the form of grasping the opponent round the head so that the claws penetrated the brain through the eye sockets.

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