Northern Flicker incubates Hooded Merganser egg

Karen L. Wiebe

Department of Biology. University of Saskatchewan, 112 Science Place, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 5E2

Abstract: Misdirected incubation has been reported for a few species of secondary cavity-nesting birds, presumably resulting from intense competition for nest sites. Here I report a case of a Northern Flicker pair, primary cavity excavators, incubating an egg of a Hooded Merganser. The flickers probably suffered a high reproductive cost as a result of this behaviour, as they fledged only two young from their own seven eggs. The Hooded Merganser embryo reached an advanced stage of development, but did not hatch. It is unclear why a woodpecker with the ability to excavate a new nest would incubate a foreign egg and suffer high reproductive failure.

Key words: cavity nesting, Colaptes auratus, competition, incubation, Northern Flicker

PDFicon Wiebe, K.L. 2000. Northern Flicker incubates Hooded Merganser egg. British Columbia Birds 10:13-15.

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