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POTTERS H (2009) Breeding biology of a smal nest box nesting population of Stock Dove Columba oenas in Noord-Brabant. LIMOSA 82 (1): 1-12.

Breeding phenology and breeding success were studied in a small population of Stock Doves breeding in nestboxes in the southern Netherlands. The study area was a 2.8 ha mixture of small meadows, woodlots and tree rows amidst agricultural fields and grassland. From 1986 nest boxes suitable for breeding Stock Doves were mounted and in 1992-2000 25-27 such nest boxes were permanently available. The boxes were checked from mid March through mid September at 14-days interval. Data were gathered about nest building, attendance of adults, number and freshness of eggs and number and age of nestlings.
      Since Stock Doves may produce several clutches or broods in the same or different nest boxes, the number of pairs depends on the way it is calculated (Fig. 1). The decrease in the number of pairs in 1994 can be fully explained by an increasing number of Jackdaws Corvus monedula (Tab 1) which bred in the same boxes and were dominant over the doves. After the eggs of the Jackdaws were systematically taken, Jackdaw numbers gradually declined and Stock Doves recovered even to above their previous numbers.
      First onset of breedingwas 28 February, butmost pairs started laying in May, July and August. Last date on which chicks were seen in a nestbox was 27 October. A small dip in occupancy of nest boxes in the end of June indicates synchronised breeding that fades in the course of the season (Figs 2 and 3). Deviations from this pattern in some yearsweremainly caused byweather conditions (cold springs and long lasting wet spells) and competition for the boxes with other species. Some pairs produced overlapping broods (young of the current and eggs of the next brood at the samemoment) in the same nest box. Probably overlapping broods were also produced in separated nest boxes, but this was hard to prove since birds were not marked. The phenomenon occurredmost frequently in yearswhen nest box occupancy and competitionwith Jackdawswas highest (Fig. 3).
      During 1988-2000, 52% of 1536 eggs hatched and 44%fledged (Tab 2). In the field I had the impression that low hatching rate was mainly caused by intraspecific competition, but annual hatching success did not correlate with population size. Especially in March many clutches were lost due to nest box competition with Jackdaws.
      Nearly all clutches contained two eggs, but five times three eggs were found. It is not sure if these clutches were produced by one female, since egg dumping is not a rare phenomenon in Stock Doves.Mean brood sizewas 1.77 (110x1, 339x2, 5x3) young and 1.73 young fledged per successful breeding attempt (107x1, 284x2, 1x3). Over the years the number of fledglings per successful breeding attempt was remarkably stable, but the amount of successful broods was not (Tab 3). Chickmortality occurred mostly (60 cases) in their first week of life and less often in their second week (20) or at later ages (16). Probably, most young died because of bad weather with continuous rain. Taken into account the considerable number of pluckings of juvenile Stock Doves in and near the study area, a second peak in mortality occurred just after fledging.
      The maximum number of eggs found in a nest box in one season amounted 4 times 15-16, 7 times 13-14 and 17 times 11-12. Probably these eggs were produced by more than one female. On the other hand the numbers presented in Table 4 probably underestimate the reproduction per pair, since pairsmay well have occupied several nest boxes. Nevertheless reproductive success was surprisingly similar to that found in surrounding countries (Tab 5).Stock Dove Columba oenas

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limosa 82.1 2009
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