During 1985 and 1986 I studied interspecific brood parasitism among seven species of waterfowl nesting on 36 islands and 24 peninsulas in central North Dakota. On islands, 40% of 178 nests were parasitized with an average of 4.3 parasitic eggs, and on peninsulas 2% of 275 nests were parasitized with an average of 2.2 parasitic eggs. Redheads (Aythya americana) were the primary parasite, adding eggs to 92% of all parasitized nests. Species nesting in open cover were parasitized at a higher rate than species nesting in dense cover. Nests with parasitic eggs had fewer host eggs and there was a negative association between the number of parasitic eggs and the success of host eggs. Parasitized nests had lower success, but additional parasitic eggs had no added influence on nest success. Interspecific brood parasitism had significant negative effects on dabbling ducks on islands but Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis) were little affected. Even so, the number of young hatched per nest was much higher on islands because of the high loss of eggs to predators on the mainland. Parasitic eggs were deposited during the middle of the nesting season, but the peak of parasitic laying occurred before the peak of normal nesting.
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Brood parasitism among waterfowl nesting on islands and peninsulas in North Dakota