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Snake predators of bird eggs: a review and bibliography



Snakes are frequent predators of bird nests and therefore potentially have an important impact on bird population dynamics. However, while many species are known to consume nestlings and chicks, few species have been recorded consuming bird eggs. To effectively quantify the effects of bird egg predation by snakes on bird demographics, a key first step is to identify which snake species consume bird eggs. Unfortunately, detailed information on the dietary habits of most snakes is scarce and feeding records are poorly cataloged, making it difficult to ascertain which species do and do not eat bird eggs. We reviewed the literature and online community science reports to compile a global list of confirmed snake predators of bird eggs. In total, we gathered 471 feeding records of 123 snake taxa consuming the eggs of at least 210 bird species from 238 individual data sources. Geographical locations of records disproportionately represented well-sampled regions, and we infer that many snake species not included on our list also consume bird eggs. However, we found that oophagous snakes tend to be long (mean maximum length = 2057 mm) and mostly eat eggs that are small in diameter (mean egg diameter = 24 mm), suggesting that relative prey bulk is an important constraint of these interactions. Therefore,we expect that other snakes that eat birds are likely to mostly include congeneric and ecologically similar species to those reflected in our review. By knowing which snakes consume bird eggs, future research can consider species- and site-specific hypotheses when investigating the ecological effects of bird egg predation by snakes. Those results can also inform conservation practitioners on the causes and consequences of variation in nest success that may aid in decision-making when designing conservation management plans.
Copyright © 2022 by the author(s). Published here under license by the Resilience Alliance.
Barends, J. M. and B. Maritz. 2022. Snake predators of bird eggs: a review and bibliography. Journal of Field Ornithology 93(2):1.
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Review and Meta-analyses
Snake predators of bird eggs: a review and bibliography
Serpientes depredadoras de huevos de aves: una revisión y bibliografía
Jody M. Barends 1 and Bryan Maritz 1
ABSTRACT. Snakes are frequent predators of bird nests and therefore potentially have an important impact on bird population
dynamics. However, while many species are known to consume nestlings and chicks, few species have been recorded consuming bird
eggs. To effectively quantify the effects of bird egg predation by snakes on bird demographics, a key first step is to identify which snake
species consume bird eggs. Unfortunately, detailed information on the dietary habits of most snakes is scarce and feeding records are
poorly cataloged, making it difficult to ascertain which species do and do not eat bird eggs. We reviewed the literature and online
community science reports to compile a global list of confirmed snake predators of bird eggs. In total, we gathered 471 feeding records
of 123 snake taxa consuming the eggs of at least 210 bird species from 238 individual data sources. Geographical locations of records
disproportionately represented well-sampled regions, and we infer that many snake species not included on our list also consume bird
eggs. However, we found that oophagous snakes tend to be long (mean maximum length = 2057 mm) and mostly eat eggs that are small
in diameter (mean egg diameter = 24 mm), suggesting that relative prey bulk is an important constraint of these interactions. Therefore,
we expect that other snakes that eat birds are likely to mostly include congeneric and ecologically similar species to those reflected in
our review. By knowing which snakes consume bird eggs, future research can consider species- and site-specific hypotheses when
investigating the ecological effects of bird egg predation by snakes. Those results can also inform conservation practitioners on the
causes and consequences of variation in nest success that may aid in decision-making when designing conservation management plans.
RESUMEN. Las serpientes son depredadores frecuentes de nidos de aves y consecuentemente tienen un impacto potencial importante
sobre la dinámica poblacional de las aves. Sin embargo, a pesar que se sabe que muchas especies consumen pichones, se han registrado
pocas especies consumiendo huevos de aves. Para cuantificar efectivamente los efectos de la depredación de huevos de aves por serpientes
en la demografía de las aves, un primer paso clave es identificar cuales especies de serpientes consumen huevos de aves.
Desafortunadamente, información detallada acerca de los hábitos alimenticios de la mayoría de las serpientes es escaza y los registros
de alimentación están pobremente catalogados, haciendo difícil definir cuales especies comen y no comen huevos de aves. Revisamos
la literatura y los reportes de la comunidad científica en línea para compilar una lista global de serpientes depredadoras de huevos de
aves confirmadas. En total, obtuvimos 471 registros de alimentación de 123 taxones de serpientes que consumen huevos de, al menos,
210 especies de aves a partir de 238 fuentes de datos individuales. La ubicación geográfica de los registros representaron
desproporcionadamente regiones bien muestreadas e inferimos que muchas de las especies de serpientes no incluidas en nuestra lista
también consumen huevos de aves. Sin embargo, encontramos que las serpientes oofagas tienden a ser largas (longitud máxima promedio
= 2057 mm) y comen mayormente huevos de diámetro pequeño (diámetro promedio del huevo = 24 mm), sugiriendo que el volumen
relativo de la presa es una restricción importante de estas interacciones. Por lo tanto, esperamos que otras especies que comen aves,
muy probablemente incluyen especies congenéres o ecológicamente similares a las incluidas en nuestra revisión. Conociendo cuales
especies consumen huevos de aves, las estudios futuros pueden considerar hipótesis especificas al sitio y a la especie al investigar los
efectos ecológicos de la depredación de huevos de aves por serpientes. Esos resultados pueden también informar a conservacionistas
sobre las causas y consecuencias de la variación en el éxito de los nidos, lo cual puede ayudar en la toma de decisiones durante el diseño
de planes de manejo para conservación.
Key Words: Bird eggs; diet; nest predation; predator-prey interactions; oophagy; snakes
Predatory attacks by snakes on nesting birds and their offspring
have been well-documented globally (for example, in Africa:
Lloyd 2004, mainland Asia: Khamcha et al. 2018, Australia:
Fulton 2018, North America: DeGregorio et al. 2014, and the
Neotropics: Menezes and Marini. 2017). However, while many
species of snakes are known consumers of nestling birds, chicks,
and brooding adults, few species are reported consuming bird
eggs. Predation of eggs by snakes can reduce recruitment of birds
and impact bird population dynamics (Lavers et al. 2010). In
addition, by preying on eggs, snakes have the potential to
influence bird life history patterns by forcing them to re-lay and
brood successive clutches (DeGregorio et al. 2014). Given that
many species of birds provide important ecosystem services
(Whelan et al. 2008, Whelan et al. 2015, Şekercioğlu et al. 2016),
population fluctuations from reduced recruitment could
potentially alter the functional integrity of a range of ecosystems
(Mortensen et al. 2008, Gascon et al. 2015, Lowney and Thomson
2021). For example, extensive predation on birds and eggs by
invasive brown tree snakes (Boiga irregularis) on the islands of
Guam has fundamentally altered the local faunal community
through extirpation of several species, ultimately causing trophic
collapse (Wiles et al. 2003). Thus, by preying on bird eggs in large
numbers, snakes have the potential to indirectly influence
ecosystem functioning in many biological communities.
1Department of Biodiversity and Conservation Biology, University of the Western Cape, Bellville, South Africa
Journal of Field Ornithology 93(2): 1
Quantifying the extent to which snakes affect ecosystems by
consuming bird eggs is hindered by numerous challenges. Several
facets of these trophic interactions are unclear, including
knowledge of which species of birds lay eggs that are at risk of
snake predation, as well as the extent to which predation of bird
eggs by snakes varies spatiotemporally (Weatherhead and Blouin-
Demers 2004, Lahti 2009, Menezes and Marini 2017).
Identification of which snakes consume bird eggs offers a critical
first step in understanding these dynamics. Knowing which
species of snakes consume eggs allows researchers to formulate
predator-specific hypotheses across a range of habitats and
environments (Reidy and Thompson 2012, Ibáñez-Álamo et al.
2015). Additionally, avian conservation practitioners can use that
information to produce anti-predator strategies for bird
conservation efforts. Unfortunately, information on snake feeding
is poorly catalogued (Grundler 2020, Maritz et al. 2021b) making
the compilation of a robust list of oophagous species challenging.
Snake diets are diverse, compositionally complex, and often
difficult to adequately quantify (Greene 1997, Glaudas et al. 2017,
Maritz and Maritz 2020). Unfortunately, the natural history data
required to systematically describe snake diets are often lacking,
particularly for taxa that occur in poorly-studied regions. For
most species, we know very little about their feeding habits apart
from generalized characterisations of their diets inferred from a
limited quantity of published information (Maritz et al. 2021b).
For many others, we lack even a basic understanding of their
feeding habits. A recent global synthesis of snake feeding records
by Grundler (2020) highlights the incomplete nature of our
understanding of snake diets. Of the 3921 species of snakes
distributed across the globe (Uetz et al. 2021), less than a third
(1248 species) could be included in that dataset and the majority
of those species were only represented by fewer than ten records.
Due to this paucity of feeding records, our understanding of
which types of prey are, or are not eaten by different species of
snakes is limited. Consequently, many species of snakes not
currently known to eat bird eggs may be oophagous.
Despite the above limitations, published records of snakes
consuming bird eggs have accumulated in the literature
(Weatherhead and Blouin-Demers 2004, Ibáñez-Álamo et al.
2015). Over the past few decades, using camera monitoring
systems, some snake species have been documented eating eggs
for the first time (Cutler and Swann 1999, Pierce and Pobprasert
2007, Ribic et al. 2012, Khamcha et al. 2018). Moreover, novel
feeding records published in natural history publications and
online community science portals continue to confirm additional
species as bird egg predators. However, because studies and
platforms vary in their objectives, records are scattered in the
literature and online. In some cases, reports may be difficult to
access or are completely inaccessible to researchers or
conservationists interested in using such data.
We compiled a comprehensive list of confirmed snake predators
of bird eggs. We collated records of snakes consuming bird eggs
from a range of sources of information and used the details within
those reports to broadly summarize trends of bird egg predation
by snakes globally. We also analysed several traits of the identified
snake species and egg prey to test hypotheses regarding why those
species consume bird eggs but many others do not. Specifically,
we tested if the inclusion or exclusion of bird eggs in the diets of
snakes is associated with 1) differences in snake body size, 2)
variation in snake habitat use, and 3) taxonomic relatedness
between snake taxa. To contextualize which bird species are at
risk, we also compared the size distribution of consumed bird
eggs to that of a sample of bird eggs not reported in the diets of
snakes. Lastly, we investigated the sizes of eggs consumed by
snakes of varying body lengths.
Data collection and inclusion criteria
Between August 2020 and July 2021, we searched for and collected
data from reports of bird egg predation by snakes. Our main
sources of data were formal publications (i.e., peer-reviewed
journal articles and books) found on the online indexer Google
Scholar, JSTOR, and SquamataBase (Grundler 2020) - an online
natural history repository containing close to 11,000 records of
predator-prey interactions across 1248 snake species. We also
searched the literature cited within those publications to identify
additional sources. Additionally, we collected data from
unpublished academic theses and personal communications from
researchers. Lastly, we collected data from community science
records published on the online platform iNaturalist (https:// and the social media network Facebook.
Facebook records were obtained from the groups “Predation
records - reptiles and amphibians (sub-Saharan Africa)”
(published in Maritz and Maritz 2020), “Snakes of South Africa”
(, and
“Wild snake predation records” (
We restricted our data collection to include records of snakes
unambiguously eating bird eggs. We did not include reports with
vague descriptions of snakes attacking nests unless eggs were
directly specified as the prey rather than nestlings, chicks, or adult
birds. Conservatively, we excluded records without clear evidence
of snakes eating eggs. For a record of a snake species to be
included it needed to meet these criteria: 1) snakes were observed
eating, attempting to eat, or having eaten (shells in digestive tracts)
eggs and 2) records were of snakes in the wild consuming eggs
they found without human intervention. We included cases in
which the eggs of captive or domesticated birds were consumed
if those predatory attacks met the above criteria.
For each reported predation event, we identified the snake and
bird species to the finest taxonomic level possible, and we noted
the number of eggs involved. Geographic coordinates were noted
from the original record or estimated using Google Maps. We
updated snake species names to match their current taxonomic
nomenclature as per Uetz et al. (2021). We provide a summary of
these records detailing the taxonomic diversity of oophagous
snake predators and their bird egg prey, as well as geographic
biases in these trends.
Ecological traits of oophagous snakes and bird egg prey
Although the primary goal of this study was to compile a list of
known snake predators of bird eggs, we were also interested in
examining traits of those species that might explain why those
snakes consume bird eggs but others do not. Differential prey use
within a particular snake species is facilitated by several factors,
chief among which include varying body size constraints (Arnold
1993, Greene 1997, Maritz and Alexander 2014) and variable
Journal of Field Ornithology 93(2): 1
encounter rates of different prey (Alencar et al. 2013, Mori and
Nagata 2016). Accordingly, we chose to examine and compare
the body lengths and primary habitats of the snakes on our list
to snakes not known to consume bird eggs. Snake body lengths
correlate with their diet breadth as larger snakes can typically
consume bulkier and heavier prey than smaller ones, and can
therefore hunt a broader range of prey (Arnold 1993, Maritz et
al. 2021c, Barends and Maritz 2022). Habitat use largely
influences the probabilities at which snakes encounter different
prey (for example, arboreal snakes are more likely to encounter
arboreal prey; Harrington et al. 2018). Taken together, these traits
are likely major limiting factors towards bird egg consumption
by snakes.
Unfortunately, most accounts of snakes consuming bird eggs do
not include linear measurements of the sizes of the individual
snakes in question. To compensate for this, we instead used
maximum body length data (i.e., length from snout to tail) of each
species on our list (Electronic dataset 1) collected from Feldman
et al. (2016). We also collected these data for all other species in
the Feldman et al. (2016) dataset (N = 3529) for use in
comparisons (Electronic dataset 2). Similarly, we gathered
information on snake habitats to classify species as either aquatic,
arboreal, fossorial, semi-arboreal, or terrestrial. We gathered
these data for as many species as we could (N = 2646) from field
guides and published datasets, including Pizzatto et al. (2007),
Lawing et al. (2012), Feldman and Meiri (2014), Bars-Closel et
al. (2017), Cyriac and Kodandaramaiah (2018), and Harrington
et al. (2018).
We were similarly interested in examining traits of the consumed
bird eggs that could provide insight into which bird eggs are at
risk of predation by snakes. Because prey bulk (i.e., the cross
sectional-diameter of prey) relative to snake size is an important
consideration of dietary selectivity in snakes (Greene 1997) we
chose to quantify the diameters of consumed eggs. Snakes
typically ingest bird eggs length-wise (Gans 1952), and so the
diameter of the eggs acts as the main dimensional constraint on
ingestion. However, as before, most reports did not include
measurements of the dimensions of the eggs consumed. We thus
gathered information on average egg diameters for each of the
bird species on our list (Electronic dataset 1). We gathered these
data from resources detailing the reproductive traits of birds that
breed in Australia (Garnett et al. 2015), Asia (Tsai et al. 2020),
Britain and Europe (Harrison and Castell 2002, Storchová and
Hořák 2018), Micronesia (Brandt 1962), North America (Baicich
and Harrison 2005), South America (Mason 1985, Auer et al.
2007, Marques-Santos et al. 2015), and southern Africa
(Tarboton 2011). For comparative purposes, we also gathered egg
diameter data for a geographically and phylogenetically diverse
sample of 2326 species of birds (~25% of all birds; Electronic
dataset 2).
Statistical analyses
We analysed geographical trends of bird egg predation by snakes
by comparing the numbers of 1) feeding records, 2) identified
snake species and 3) identified bird egg prey species across major
geographical regions. We demarcated regions as Africa, Asia,
Australia, Central America, Europe, Micronesia, the Middle
East, North America, and South America. We also examined the
elevation (in metres above sea level) of each area where predation
events were observed. We gathered elevation data where predation
events occured (N = 350) at a resolution of 30 arc seconds from
the Worldclim global elevation dataset (Fick and Hijmans 2017).
We evaluated the ecological traits of oophagous snakes by first
analysing patterns of their body length distributions. We used a
Kolmogorov-Smirnov test to compare the relative distribution of
the maximum body lengths of oophagous snakes to all snakes
included in Feldman et al. (2016). We then used a phylogenetic
ANOVA to test for differences in average log-transformed
maximum body lengths of snakes that do and do not consume
bird eggs while accounting for the effects of phylogenetic
autocorrelation caused by species relatedness. We performed this
test with the "Geiger" package (Pennell et al. 2014) in R software
v.4.1.1 (R Core Team 2021) using a pruned version of the
phylogeny of squamate reptiles published by Tonini et al. (2016)
(N = 3503 species) as the input phylogenetic tree. We similarly
summarized oophagous snake habitat use and then compared
body lengths (log10 transformed) by habitat use controlling for
phylogeny via phylogenetic ANOVA.
We tested for the presence of a phylogenetic signal associated with
bird egg consumption by snakes by calculating Blomberg’s K
(Blomberg et al. 2003). We considered a Blomberg’s K value less
than one to indicate that oophagy occurs randomly across our
tree under Brownian motion evolution whereas K values greater
than one suggest oophagy is more prevalent between closely
related snake taxa (Blomberg et al. 2003). We performed this test
using the "Phytools" package (Revell 2012) in R.
Similar to our analyses of snake body lengths, we performed the
same comparative tests between consumed eggs and other eggs.
We used a Kolmogorov-Smirnov test to compare the relative
distributions of egg diameters of eggs eaten by snakes and all
other eggs. We then looked for differences in average log-
transformed diameters of consumed eggs and other eggs (N =
2326) via phylogenetic ANOVA. We used a pruned version of the
phylogeny of extant birds published by Jetz et al. (2012) as the
input tree for this test. Finally, we visually inspected the
relationship between bird egg diameters and snake body lengths
across all predation events by creating a Sankey plot depicting the
flow between egg diameters (in mm) and snake length (in meters).
For bird egg diameter size classes, we used bins of 10 mm, and
for snake body length size classes we used bins of 1 m.
Records of bird egg predation by snakes
Our search produced a total of 471 records of confirmed
predatory interactions between snakes and bird eggs across the
globe (Table 1). Bird eggs were consumed by 123 different snake
taxa (114 species and nine subspecies) belonging to 59 genera and
seven families (Boidae, Colubridae, Elapidae, Psammophiidae,
Pseudaspididae, Pythonidae, and Viperidae). Of these,
Colubridae (70% of all 123 taxa) and Elapidae (13% of all 123
taxa) were most frequently reported (Fig. 1). The eggs of at least
210 species of birds across 159 genera, 71 families and 21 orders,
including passerines and several non-passerine orders, were
consumed. In 26 cases, bird eggs were only identified to genus,
family, or order levels (seven cases, 14 cases, and five cases
respectively). In 63 cases, bird eggs were not identified beyond the
class level, or the exact identity of the species was ambiguously
reported in the source material (for example, “the eggs of land
Journal of Field Ornithology 93(2): 1
Table 1. Recorded observations of avian oophagy by snakes.
Snake species Snake common name Bird species
(no. recorded)
Bird common name Geographic area Source
Boa constrictor Boa constrictor Butorides striatus Striated Heron Venezuela Thomas (1984)
Ciconia maguari Maguari Stork Venezuela Thomas (1984)
Forpus passerinus Green-rumped Parrotlet Venezuela Menezes & Marini (2017)
Phimosus infuscatus Bare-faced Ibis Venezuela Thomas (1984)
Chilabothrus angulifer Cuban boa Patagioenas leucocephala White-crowned Pigeon Cuba Godinez et al. (1987)
Petrochelidon fulva Cave Swallow Cuba Mancina & Sosa (1997)
Chilabothrus chrysogaster Turk's Island boa Gallus gallus domesticus (2) Domestic Chicken West Indies Schwartz & Henderson
Chilabothrus inornatus Puerto Rican boa Bubulcus ibis Cattle Egret Puerto Rico Wiley (2003)
Gallus gallus domesticusDomestic Chicken Jamaica Gosse (1851)
Chilabothrus striatus Hispaniolan boa Phasianus colchicus Ring-necked Pheasant Dominican Republic Ottenwalder (1980)
Ploceus cucullatus Village Weaver Dominican Republic Wiley (2001)
Psittacara chloropterus Hispaniolan Parakeet Dominican Republic Ottenwalder (1980)
Epicrates assisi Striped rainbow boa Unidentified - Brazil Vitt & Vanglider (1983)
Epicrates cenchria Rainbow boa Conopophaga peruviana Ash-throated Gnateater Peru Londoño pers comm.
Tinamus tao Grey Tinamou Brazil Fiorillo (2019)
Unidentified - Brazil Martins & Oliveira (1998)
Eunectes notaeus Yellow anaconda Aramus guarauna (3) Limpkin Argentina; Brazil Strüssmann & Sazima
(1991); Waller et al. (2007);
Miranda et al. (2017)
Chauna torquata (2) Southern Screamer Argentina Waller et al. (2007);
Miranda et al. (2017)
Boiga cyanea Green cat snake Malacopteron cinereum Scaly-crowned Babbler Thailand Somsiri et al. (2019)
Unidentified - Thailand Pierce & Pobprasert (2013)
Boiga cynodon Dog-toothed cat snake Unidentified - South East Asia Greene (1989)
Boiga dendrophila Mangrove cat snake Gallus gallus domesticusDomestic Chicken Borneo Pitman (1962b)
Unknown "sea birds" - Borneo Pitman (1962b)
Boiga irregularis Brown tree snake Anas platyrhynchosMallard Guam Savidge (1988)
Columba livia Rock Pigeon Guam Savidge (1988)
Coturnix coturnixCommon Quail Guam Savidge (1988)
Francolinus francolinus Black Francolin Guam Vice et al. (2005)
Gallus gallus Red Junglefowl Guam Savidge (1988)
Melopsittacus undulatusBudgerigar Guam Savidge (1988)
Nymphicus hollandicussCockatiel Guam Savidge (1988)
Passer montanus Eurasian Tree Sparrow Guam Savidge (1988)
Serinus canariusIsland Canary Guam Savidge (1988)
Streptopelia bitorquata (2) Sunda Collared Dove Guam Conry (1988); Savidge
Taeniopygia guttata Sunda Zebra Finch Guam Savidge (1988)
Unidentified (4) - Australia; Guam Savidge (1988); Greene
(1989); Shine (1991)
Boiga kraepelini Kelung cat snake Alcippe morrisonia Grey-cheeked Fulvetta Taiwan Chen et al. (2015)
Pitta nympha Fairy Pitta Taiwan Chen et al. (2015)
Pomatorhinus musicus Taiwan Scimitar Babbler Taiwan Chen et al. (2015)
Pycnonotus sinensis Light-vented Bulbul Taiwan Chen et al. (2015)
Schoeniparus brunneus Dusky Fulvetta Taiwan Chen et al. (2015)
Unidentified - East Asia Greene (1989)
Boiga ochracea Tawny cat snake Unidentified - N/a Greene (1989)
Boiga siamensis Gray cat snake Unidentified - South East Asia Greene (1989)
Borikenophis portoricensis Puerto Rican racer Zenaida aurita Zenaida Dove Virgin Islands Norton (1983)
Chironius grandisquamis Ecuador sipo Poliocrania exsul Chestnut-backed Antbird Costa Rica Visco & Sherry (2015)
Clelia clelia Black mussurana Myrmoborus leucophrys White-browed Antbird Peru Londoño pers comm.
Coluber constrictor constrictor Northern black racer Colinus virginianus (2) Northern Bobwhite USA Uhler et al. (1939); Staller
et al. (2005)
Haematopus palliatus American Oystercatcher USA Hackney et al. (2014)
Passerina cyanea Indigo Bunting USA Stake et al. (2005)
Spizella pusilla Field Sparrow USA Best (1974)
Turdus migratorius (2) American Robin USA Fitch (1963b); Rodirguez-
Robles & de Jesus-Escobar
Vireo atricapilla Black-capped Vireo USA Degregorio et al. (2016)
Coluber constrictor flaviventris Yellowbelly racer Agelaius phoeniceus Red-winged Blackbird USA Fitch (1963b)
Cardinalis cardinalis Northern Cardinal USA Fitch (1963b)
Coluber constrictor foxii Blue racer Sialia sialis Eastern Bluebird USA Lennon (2013)
Conophis lineatus Road guarder Morococcyx erythropygus Lesser Ground-Cuckoo Costa Rica Scott (1983)
Dasypeltis atra Montane egg-eater Phyllastrephus cabanisi Cabanis's Greenbul Kenya Van de Loock & Bates
Unknown weaver - Uganda Pitman (1974)
Dasypeltis inornata Southern brown egg-eater Gallus gallus domesticusDomestic Chicken South Africa Maritz & Ping (2020)
Journal of Field Ornithology 93(2): 1
Dasypeltis medici East African egg-eater Phyllastrephus flavostriatus Yellow-streaked Greenbul Mozambique Macdonald & Dean (1978)
Dasypeltis Scabra Common egg-eater Anthus cinnamomeus African Pipit South Africa Bates & Little (2013)
Cercotrichas coryphaeus Karoo Scrub Robin South Africa Lloyd et al. (2009)
Columba guinea (2) Speckled Pigeon South Africa Dyer (1996)
Coturnix coturnix Common Quail South Africa Bates & Little (2013)
Crithagra flaviventris Yellow Canary South Africa Hockey et al. (2005)
Euplectes ardens Red-collared Widowbird South Africa Pryke & Lawes (2004)
Euplectes orix Southern Red Bishop South Africa Kok et al. (1977)
Gallus gallus domesticus (3) Domestic Chicken South Africa; Uganda Loveridge (1936); Pitman
(1958b); Maritz & Maritz
Haematopus moquini (2) African Oystercatcher South Africa Bates & Little (2013);
Maritz & Maritz (2020)
Lagonosticta nitidula Brown Firefinch South Africa Hockey et al. (2005)
Lanius collaris Southern Fiscal South Africa Bruderer (1991)
Larus dominicanus Kelp Gull South Africa Dyer (1996)
Larus hartlaubii Hartlaub's Gull South Africa Underhill et al. (2009)
Macronyx capensis Cape Longclaw South Africa Bates & Little (2013)
Malcorus pectoralis Rufous-eared Warbler South Africa Hockey et al. (2005)
Melaenornis infuscatus Chat Flycatcher South Africa Lloyd (2004)
Merops sp. - South Africa Fry (1984)
Passer melanurus Cape Sparrow South Africa Underhill et al. (2009)
Pavo cristatus (3) Indian Peafowl South Africa;
Olivier (2020)
Schick (2019)
Phalacrocorax capensis Cape Cormorant South Africa Dyer (1996)
Phalacrocorax coronatus Crowned Cormorant South Africa Underhill et al. (2009)
Philetairus socius Sociable Weaver South Africa Hockey et al. (2005)
Ploceus castanops Northern Brown-throated
Uganda Pitman (1958b)
Ploceus cucullatus Village Weaver Uganda Pitman (1958b)
Ploceus nigerimus Vieillot's Black Weaver Uganda Pitman (1958b)
Ploceus sp. -Sudan Pitman (1962a)
Poicephalus rueppellii Rüppell's Parrot Namibia Selman (1998)
Prinia flavicans Black-chested Prinia South Africa Jacobsen (1989)
Prinia maculosa (2) Karoo Prinia South Africa Rowan & Bruekhusen
(1962); Nalwanga et al.
Pseudonigrita arnaudi Grey-capped Social Weaver Kenya Cheng et al. (2019)
Pterocles namaqua Namaqua Sandgrouse South Africa Lloyd et al. (2001)
Pycnonotus capensis (2) Cape Bulbul South Africa Kruger (2004); Hockey et
al. (2005)
Quelea quelea lathami Red-billed Quelea South Africa Pienaar (1969)
Sarothrura boehmi Streaky-breasted Flufftail Zambia Jamie (2016)
Scleroptila africanus Grey-winged Francolin South Africa Little & Crowe (1993)
Spermestes cucullatus Bronze Mannikin Kenya Loveridge (1945)
Sporaeginthus subflavus Orange-breasted Waxbill South Africa Colahan (1982)
Sterna bergii Greater Crested Tern South Africa Underhill et al. (2009)
Streptopelia senegalensis Laughing Dove South Africa Rowan (1983)
Threskiornis aethiopicus African Sacred Ibis South Africa Underhill et al. (2009)
Unknown weaver - South Africa Barbour & Loveridge
Vanellus lugubris Senegal Lapwing South Africa Ward (1989)
Unidentified (3) - DRC; Mozambique;
South Africa
Schmidt et al. 1923;
Loveridge (1953); De Waal
Dendrelaphis tristis Daudin's bronzeback snake Copsychus fulicatus Indian Robin Sri-Lanka Pitman (1962b)
Dendrophidion percarinatum South American forest racer Poliocrania exsul Chestnut-backed Antbird Costa Rica Visco & Sherry (2015)
Dispholidus typus Boomslang Philetairus socius Sociable Weaver South Africa Greuel (2020)
Poicephalus rueppellii Rüppell's Parrot Namibia Selman et al. (2000)
Prinia maculosa Karoo Prinia South Africa Nalwanga et al. (2004)
Rhinopomastus cyanomelas Common Scimitarbill Zimbabwe Pitman (1962a)
Serinus canicollis Cape Canary South Africa Pitman (1962a)
Spermestes cucullatus Bronze Mannikin Kenya Loveridge (1945)
Unknown weaver - South Africa Pitman (1958a)
Unidentified (3) - South Africa; Sudan;
Barbour & Loveridge
(1928); Smith et al. (2019);
Maritz & Maritz (2020)
Drymarchon corais Western indigo snake Gallus gallus domesticusDomestic Chicken Brazil Bernarde & Abe (2006)
Unknown phasianid (3) - Brazil da Costa-Prudente et al.
Unidentified (2) - Brazil Bernarde & Abe (2006);
Menezes & Marini (2017)
Drymarchon couperi Eastern indigo snake Gallus gallus domesticus (2) Domestic Chicken USA Stevenson et al. (2010);
Campbell & Smith (2018)
Drymarchon melanurus Blacktail cribo Ortalis vetula mccalli Plain Chachalaca USA Marion & Fleetwood
Dryocalamus sp. Malacopteron cinereum Scaly-crowned Babbler Thailand Somsiri et al. (2019)
Journal of Field Ornithology 93(2): 1
Elachistodon westermanni Indian Egg-eater Columba livia Rock Pigeon India Visvanthan (2015)
Passer domesticus House Sparrow India Dandge (2008)
Ploceus philippinus Baya Weaver India Dandge & Tiple (2016)
Unidentified - India Dandge (2008)
Elaphe anomala Korean rat snake Paradoxornis heudei Reed Parrotbill China Chen et al. (2020)
Elaphe carinata Taiwanese rat Snake Accipter soloensis Chinese Sparrowhawk China Ma et al. (2016)
Aegithalos glaucogularis Silver-throated Bushtit China Li et al. (2012)
Chrysolophus pictus Golden Pheasant China Wang et al. (2014)
Nipponia nippon (2) Crested Ibis China Yu et al. (2006); Yu et al.
Pomatorhinus musicus Taiwan Scimitar Babbler China; Taiwan Chen et al. (2015)
Elaphe climacophora Japanese rat snake Unidentified - Japan Mori & Nagata (2016)
Elaphe quadrivirgata Japanese four-lined rat snake Unknown "land birds" - Japan Hasegawa & Moriguchi
Unknown "sea birds" - Japan Hasegawa & Moriguchi
Elaphe quatuorlineata Four-lined snake Dendrocopos major Great Spotted Woodpecker Italy Cattaneo (1979)
Parus major Great Tit Italy Sorace et al. (2000)
Passer domesticus House Sparrow Italy Cattaneo (1979)
Phasianus colchicus (2) Ring-necked Pheasant Greece; Italy Cattaneo (1979); Cattaneo
& Grano (2013)
Unidentified (2) - Italy Fillipi et al. (2005)
Elaphe schrenkii Amur ratsnake Unidentified - China Schultz (1988)
Elaphe taeniura Beauty snake Accipter soloensis Chinese Sparrowhawk China Ma et al. (2016)
Aegithalos concinnus Black-throated Bushtit China Li et al. (2012)
Collocalia sp. - Borneo Pitman (1962b)
Emberiza jankowskii Jankowski's Bunting China Jiang et al. (2008)
Elaphe taeniura friesi Taiwanese beauty snake Pitta nympha Fairy Pitta Taiwan Chen et al. (2015)
Hemorrhois hippocrepis Horseshoe whip snake Pterocles orientalis Black-bellied Sandgrouse Morroco Znari et al. (2008)
Heterodon nasicus Western hognose snake Chondestes grammacus Lark Sparrow USA Langford & Janovy (2011)
Lampropeltis alterna Grey-banded kingsnake Callipepla squamata Scaled Quail USA Vermilya & Acuna (2004)
Lampropeltis californiae California kingsnake Aimophila ruficeps Rufous-crowned Sparrow USA Morrison & Bolger (2002)
Callipepla californica (3) California Quail Mexico; USA Klauber (1931); Comtpon
(1933); Wisemen et al.
Vireo bellii Bell's Vireo USA Pemberton & Carriger
Zenaida macroura Mourning Dove USA Hollingsworth (2016)
Lampropeltis calligaster Prairie kingsnake Colinus virginianus (2) Northern Bobwhite USA Fitch (1978); Fitch (1998)
Coturnix coturnix Common Quail USA Klimstra (1959)
Passerina cyanea Indigo Bunting USA Thompson III et al. (1999)
Spizella pusilla Field Sparrow USA Thompson III et al. (1999)
Lampropeltis getula Common kingsnake Colinus virginianus Northern Bobwhite USA Staller et al. (2005)
Molothrus ater Brown-headed Cowbird USA Cavitt (2000)
Spiza americana Dickcissel USA Cavitt (2000)
Unknown passerine - USA Cavitt (2000)
Unidentified - USA Rodriguez-Robles & de
Jesus-Escobar (1999)
Lampropeltis holbrooki Speckled kingsnake Passerina cyanea Indigo Bunting USA Stake et al. (2005)
Spizella pusilla Field Sparrow USA Stake et al. (2005)
Sturnella magna Eastern Meadowlark USA Landoll & Husak (2011)
Lampropeltis triangulum Eastern milksnake Melospiza melodia Song Sparrow USA Brown (1979b)
Spizella pusilla Field Sparrow USA Bent & Austin Jr (1968)
Lampropeltis zonata California mountain kingsnake Oreortyx pictus Mountain Quail USA Wentz (1953)
Unidentified - USA Rodriguez-Robles & de
Jesus-Escobar (1999)
Leptophis ahaetulla Giant parrot snake Unidentified - Argentina Lopez et al. (2003)
Leptophis mexicanus Mexican parrot snake Unidentified - Mexico Henderson (1982)
Lycodon davisonii Blanford's bridle snake Alophoixus pallidus Puff-throated Bulbul Thailand Khamcha & Gale (2020)
Cyornis sumatrensis Indochinese Blue Flycatcher Thailand Khamcha & Gale (2020)
Kittacincla malabarica White-rumped Shama Thailand Khamcha & Gale (2020)
Malacocincla abbotti Abbott's Babbler Thailand Khamcha & Gale (2020)
Malacopteron cinereum Scaly-crowned Babbler Thailand Khamcha & Gale (2020)
Pycnonotus finlaysoni Stripe-throated Bulbul Thailand Khamcha & Gale (2020)
Lycodon semicarinatus Ryukyu odd-tooth snake Otus elegans Ryukyu Scops Owl Japan Toyama et al. (2015)
Masticophis bilineatus Sonoran whipsnake Zenaida asiatica White-winged Dove Mexico Gatica-Colima (2015)
Masticophis flagellum Coachwhip Vireo atricapilla Black-capped Vireo USA Stake & Cimprich (2003)
Oligodon formosanus Formosa kukri snake Pomatorhinus musicus Taiwan Scimitar Babbler Taiwan Chen et al. (2015)
Opheodrys aestivus Rough greensnake Vireo atricapilla Black-capped Vireo USA Nelson et al. (2006)
Oxyrhopus petola Forest flame snake Conopophaga ardesiaca Slaty Gnateater Peru Londoño pers comm.
Hafferia fortis Sooty Antbird Peru Cerón-Cardona &
Londoño (2017)
Unidentified (2) - Brazil Cunha & Nascimento
(1983); Gaiarsa et al.
Pantherophis alleghaniensis Eastern rat snake Gallus gallus domesticus (4) Domestic Chicken USA Brown & Mitchell (2005);
Folsom 2018; Jokay 2020;
Rice 2020
Journal of Field Ornithology 93(2): 1
Picoides borealis Red-cockaded Woodpecker USA Delaney et al. (2008)
Vireo atricapilla Black-capped Vireo USA Degregorio et al. (2016)
Pantherophis emoryi Great Plains rat snake Bartramia longicauda Upland Sandpiper USA Cavitt (2000)
Setophaga chrysoparia (2) Golden-cheeked Warbler USA Stake (2001); Stake et al.
Pantherophis guttatus Eastern corn snake Colinus virginianus Northern Bobwhite USA Staller et al. (2005)
Setophaga chrysoparia Golden-cheeked Warbler USA Stake et al. (2005)
Vireo atricapilla Black-capped Vireo USA Stake et al. (2005);
Degregorio et al. (2016)
Unidentified - USA Rodriguez-Robles & de
Jesus-Escobar (1999)
Pantherophis obsoletus Western rat snake Aix sponsa (2) Wood Duck USA Leopold (1966); Hansen &
Frederickson (1990)
Anas platyrhynchosMallard USA Ormand (2019)
Aphelocoma coerulescens Florida Scrub-Jay USA Carter et al. (2007)
Bonasa umbellus Ruffed Grouse USA Brown (1979a)
Branta canadensis maxima Canada Goose USA Aldrich & Endicott (1984)
Colinus virginianus (2) Northern Bobwhite USA Uhler et al. (1939); Staller
et al. (2005)
Coturnix coturnix Common quail USA Conant (1938)
Dendrocygna autumnalis Black-bellied Whistling-Duck USA Schramer (2019)
Egretta caerulea Little Blue Heron USA Taylor & Michael (1971)
Gallus gallus domesticus (10) Domestic Chicken USA Brown (1979a); Stickel et
al. (1980); Smith (2017);
Brown & Smith (2017);
Allison & Smith (2018);
Shellabarger (2019);
Ormand (2019); Calhoun
(2020); Wilkerson (2020);
Hayes & Rice (2020)
Hirundo rustica Barn Swallow USA Carter (1970)
Passer domesticus House Sparrow USA Wishard & Cavataio
Passerina cyanea (2) Indigo Bunting USA Thompson III et al.
(1999); Stake et al. (2005)
Setophaga chrysoparia (2) Golden-cheeked Warbler USA Stake et al. (2004); Stake et
al. (2005)
Sialia sialis Eastern Bluebird USA Brown (1979a)
Spizella pusilla (2) Field Sparrow USA Thompson III et al.
(1999); Stake et al. (2005)
Thryothorus ludovicianus Carolina Wren USA Brown (1979a)
Turdus sp. - USA Britto (2020)
Unknown duck - USA Stickel et al. (1980)
Vireo atricapilla Black-capped Vireo USA Stake et al. (2005)
Zenaida macroura Mourning Dove USA Fitch (1963a)
Unidentified (3) - USA Fitch (1963a); Stickel et al.
(1980); Rodriquez-Robles
& de Jesus-Escobar (1999)
Pantherophis spiloides Midland rat snake Bubulcus ibis Cattle Egret USA Dusi & Dusi (1968)
Egretta caerulea Little Blue Heron USA Dusi & Dusi (1968)
Pantherophis vulpinus Eastern fox snake Anas clypeata Northern Shoveler USA Wheeler (1984)
Anas discors Blue-winged Teal USA Andrews (1952)
Anas discors Blue-winged Teal USA Wheeler (1984)
Anas platyrhynchos Mallard USA Andrews (1952)
Coturnix coturnix Common Quail USA Conant (1938)
Gallus gallus domesticus (2) Domestic Chicken USA Conant (1938); Jadin &
Orlofske (2020)
Melospiza melodia Song Sparrow USA Langlois (1964)
Mergus merganser Common Merganser Canada Wilson (1985)
Phasianus colchicus (3) Ring-necked Pheasant Canada; USA Stokes (1952); Langlois
(1964); Vogt (1981)
Spiza americana Dickcissel Klug et al. (2010)
Unknown duck - Canada Rivard (1976)
Unidentified - USA Rodriguez-Robles & de
Jesus-Escobar (1999)
Philodryas patagoniensis Patagonia green racer Xanthopsar flavus Saffron-cowled Blackbird Argentina Fraga et al. (1998)
Philothamnus hoplogaster Green water snake Streptopelia capicola Ring-necked Dove Zimbabwe Pitman (1962b)
Phrynonax poecilonotus Puffing snake Aramides cajanea Gray-cowled Wood-Rail Panama Robinson & Robinson
Crotophaga major Greater Ani Panama Riehl & Jara (2009)
Hafferia fortis Sooty Antbird Peru Cerón-Cardona &
Londoño (2017)
Hylophylax naevioides Spotted Antbird Panama Robinson et al. (2005)
Penelope jacquacu Spix's Guan Peru Dixon & Soini (1986)
Penelope sp. - Brazil Martins & Oliveira (1998)
Poliocrania exsul (2) Chestnut-backed Antbird Costa Rica; Panama Robinson et al. (2005);
Visco & Sherry (2015)
Journal of Field Ornithology 93(2): 1
Tinamus major Great Tinamou Panama Robinson & Robinson
Unknown seedeater - Guyana Beebe (1946)
Unidentified (2) - Chile; Panama Sexton & Heatwole (1965),
Menezes & Marini (2017)
Phrynonax polylepis Northeastern puffing snake Ortalis guttata Speckled Chachalaca Peru Angulo & Chavez (2017)
Penelope jacquacu (2) Spix's Guan Peru Dixon & Soini (1986)
Sporophila sp. -Guyana Beebe (1946)
Phrynonax shropshirei Shropshire's puffing snake Unidentified - Ecuador Cisneros-Heredia (2005)
Pituophis catenifer Gopher snake Anas acuta Northern Pintail USA Rodriguez-Robles (2002)
Anas platyrhynchos Mallard USA Rodriguez-Robles (2002)
Aythya americana Redhead USA Rodriguez-Robles (2002)
Callipepla californica California Quail USA Rodriguez-Robles (2002)
Callipepla gambelii Gambel's Quail USA Rodriguez-Robles (2002)
Colinus virginianus Northern Bobwhite USA Cavitt (2000)
Coturnix coturnix Common Quail USA Rodriguez-Robles (2002)
Eremophila alpestris Horned Lark USA Rodriguez-Robles (2002)
Gallus gallus domesticusDomestic Chicken USA Rodriguez-Robles (2002)
Lanius ludovicianus Loggerhead Shrike USA Hathcock (2013)
Melanerpes formicivorus Acorn Woodpecker USA Rodriguez-Robles (2002)
Numenius americanus Long-billed Curlew USA Rodriguez-Robles (2002)
Numida meleagris Helmeted Guineafowl USA Rodriguez-Robles (2002)
Otus flammeolus Flammulated Owl USA Rodriguez-Robles (2002)
Pheucticus melanocephalus Black-headed Grosbeak USA Pemberton & Carriger
Quiscalus quiscula Common Grackle USA Rodriguez-Robles (2002)
Recurvirostra americana American Avocet USA Rodriguez-Robles (2002)
Sialia currucoides Mountain Bluebird USA Rodriguez-Robles (2002)
Sialia mexicana Western Bluebird USA Rodriguez-Robles (2002)
Spiza americana Dickcissel USA Rodriguez-Robles (2002)
Stelgidopteryx serripennis Northern Rough-winged
USA Rodriguez-Robles (2002)
Sturnella sp. -USA Rodriguez-Robles (2002)
Troglodytes aedon House Wren USA Rodriguez-Robles (2002)
Turdus migratorius American Robin USA Rodriguez-Robles (2002)
Unknown duck - USA Rodriguez-Robles (2002)
Unknown passerine - USA Rodriguez-Robles (2002)
Zenaida macroura Mourning Dove USA Rodriguez-Robles (2002)
Unidentified - USA Rodriguez-Robles (2002)
Pituophis catenifer affinis Sonoran gopher snake Coccyzus americanus Yellow-billed Cuckoo USA Root et al. (2015)
Pituophis catenifer deserticola Great Basin gopher snake Centrocercus urophasianus Greater Sage-Grouse USA Lockyer et al. (2013)
Pituophis catenifer sayi Bullsnake Anas platyrhynchos Mallard USA USFW & Smith (2018)
Aythya americana Redhead USA Imler (1945)
Cistothorus palustris Marsh Wren USA Imler (1945)
Colinus virginianus Northern Bobwhite USA Brown (1979a)
Fulica americana American Coot USA Imler (1945)
Mareca strepera Gadwall USA Imler (1945)
Meleagris gallopavo Wild Turkey USA Guthrie (1932)
Phasianus colchicus Ring-necked Pheasant USA Imler (1945)
Recurvirostra americana (2) American Avocet USA Imler (1945)
Stelgidopteryx ruficollis Southern Rough-winged
USA Best (1977)
Sturnella magna Eastern Meadowlark USA Imler (1945)
Turdus merula Eurasian Blackbird USA Imler (1945)
Unknown duck - USA Imler (1945)
Unidentified (2) - USA Diller & Wallace (1996);
Iverson & Akres (2001)
Pituophis melanoleucus lodingi Black pine snake Colinus virginianus Northern Bobwhite USA Rudolph et al. (2002)
Pituophis melanoleucus
Northern pine snake Aix sponsa Wood Duck USA Wheeler (1984)
Colinus virginianus Northern Bobwhite USA Brown (1979a)
Platyceps rhodorachis Common cliff racer Argya caudata Common Babbler Iran Moosavi et al. (2011)
Pseudalsophis dorsalis Central Galapagos racer Zenaida galapagoensis Galapagos Dove Ecuador Ortiz-Catedral et al. (2019)
Unidentified - Ecuador Ortiz-Catedral et al. (2019)
Pseudalsophis occidentalis Western Galapagos racer Unidentified - Ecuador Ortiz-Catedral et al. (2019)
Ptyas dhumnades Big-eyed rat snake Accipter soloensis Chinese Sparrowhawk China Ma et al. (2016)
Aegithalos concinnus Black-throated Bushtit China Li et al. (2012)
Ptyas mucosus Oriental rat snake Hypsipetes ganeesa Square-tailed Bulbul India Balakrishnan (2010)
Pitta nympha Fairy Pitta Taiwan Chen et al. (2015)
Rhachidelus brazili Brazilian bird snake Unidentified (2) - Brazil Franca et al. (2008);
Gaiarsa et al. (2013)
Spalerosophis diadema Diadem snake Podoces panderi Turkestan Ground Jay Uzbekistan Burnside et al. (2020)
Spilotes pullatus Tropical chicken snake Crotophaga major Greater Ani Panama Riehl & Jara (2009)
Turdus rufiventris Rufous-bellied Thrush Brazil Cochran (2013)
Turdus sp. - Brazil Marques & Sazima (2004)
Unidentified (2) - Brazil Martins & Oliveira (1998);
Menezes & Marini (2017)
Journal of Field Ornithology 93(2): 1
Spilotes sulphureus Yellow-bellied chicken snake Campylopterus largipennis Grey-breasted Sabrewing Peru Londoño pers comm.
Chlorothraupis carmioli Carmiol's Tanager Peru Londoño pers comm.
Conopophaga peruviana Ash-throated Gnateater Peru Londoño pers comm.
Cryptopipo holochlora Green Manakin Peru Londoño pers comm.
Crypturellus bartletti Bartlett's Tinamou Peru Londoño pers comm.
Crypturellus variegatus Variegated Tinamou Peru Londoño pers comm.
Dysithamnus mentalis Plain Antvireo Peru Londoño pers comm.
Geotrygon montana Ruddy Quail-Dove Peru Londoño pers comm.
Glyphorynchus spirurus Wedge-billed Woodcreeper Peru Londoño pers comm.
Hylophylax naevius Spot-backed Antbird Peru Londoño pers comm.
Lepidothrix coronata Blue-crowned Manakin Peru Londoño pers comm.
Myrmoborus myotherinus Black-faced Antbird Peru Londoño pers comm.
Myrmothera campanisona Thrush-like Antpitta Peru Londoño pers comm.
Saltator maximus Buff-throated Saltator Peru Londoño pers comm.
Sclerurus mexicanus Tawny-throated Leaftosser Peru Londoño pers comm.
Tangara schrankii Green-and-gold Tanager Peru Londoño pers comm.
Tinamus major Great Tinamou Peru Londoño pers comm.
Unknown passerine - Brazil Londoño pers comm.
Willisornis poecilinotus Common Scale-backed
Peru Londoño pers comm.
Unidentified - Peru dos Santos-Costa et al.
Telescopus dhara Arabian tiger snake Unknown passerine - Jordan Amr & Disi (1998)
Thamnophis hammondii Two-striped garter snake Spizella atrogularis Black-chinned Sparrow USA Pemberton & Carriger
Thamnophis sirtalis Common garter snake Dolichonyx oryzivorus Bobolink USA Gabrielson (1922)
Spiza americana Dickcissel USA Olson & Warner (2001)
Spizella pusilla Field Sparrow USA Olson & Warner (2001)
Toxicodryas blandingii Blandings tree snake Unidentified (2) - Uganda Cansdale (1961); Pitman
Zamenis longissimus Aesculapean snake Muscicapa striata Spotted Flycatcher Poland Najbar (2007)
Unidentified (2) - Italy Naulleau & Bonnet (1995);
Capula & Luiselli (2002)
Zamenis scalaris Ladder snake Burhinus oedicnemus Eurasian Stone-curlew Spain Solis & Lope (1995)
Unidentified - Spain Pleguezuelos et al. (2007)
Bungarus fasciatus Banded krait Gallus gallus Red Junglefowl India Slowinski (1994)
Denisonia devisi De Vis's banded snake Chrysococcyx basalis Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo Australia Linton (1930)
Laticauda colubrina Yellow-lipped sea krait Sterna sumatrana Black-naped Tern Borneo Pitman (1962a)
Naja anchietae Anchieta's cobra Gallus gallus domesticusDomestic Chicken Namibia Maritz & Maritz (2020)
Naja annulifera Snouted cobra Gallus gallus domesticus (6) Domestic Chicken South Africa;
Pitman (1958b); Broadley
(1959); Newman (1965);
Haagner (1993); Shine et
al. (2007); Otto (2020)
Unidentified - South Africa Hewitt & Power (1913)
Naja haje Egyptian cobra Gallus gallus domesticus (2) Domestic Chicken Kenya; Sudan Corkill (1935); Pitman
Naja kaouthia Monocled cobra Anas platyrhynchos Mallard Thailand Chaitae (2011)
Dendrocygna javanica Lesser Whistling Duck Thailand Chaitae (2011)
Naja melanoleuca Central African forest cobra Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus Gray-hooded Gull Uganda Pitman (1958b)
Gallus gallus domesticusDomestic Chicken Uganda Pitman (1958b)
Unknown duck - Uganda Pitman (1962a)
Naja mossambica Mozambique spitting cobra Gallus gallus domesticusDomestic Chicken South Africa Maritz & Maritz (2020)
Naja naja Spectacled cobra Gallus gallus domesticusDomestic Chicken Sri-Lanka Pitman (1962a)
Numida meleagris Helmeted Guineafowl Sri-Lanka Pitman (1962a)
Naja nigricincta Western barred spitting cobra Nymphicus hollandicusCockatiel Namibia Theart (2020)
Naja nigricollis Black-necked spitting cobra Anser domesticusDomestic Goose Zambia Maritz & Maritz (2020)
Columba guinea Speckled Pigeon Kenya Pitman (1958b)
Gallus gallus domesticus (2) Domestic Chicken Zimbabwe Pitman (1958b); Pitman
Naja nivea Cape cobra Burhinus capensis Spotted Thick-knee South Africa Pitman (1962a)
Coturnix coturnix Common Quail South Africa Stander (2021)
Eupodotis caerulescens Blue Korhaan South Africa Pitman (1962a)
Gallus gallus domesticusDomestic Chicken South Africa Heyns & Smith (2018)
Philetairus socius (3) Sociable Weaver South Africa Maclean (1973); Covas et
al. (2008); Greuel (2020)
Pterocles namaqua (2) Namaqua Sandgrouse South Africa Pitman (1962a); Lloyd et
al. (2001)
Upupa epops Eurasian Hoopoe South Africa Layloo et al. (2017)
Notechis scutatus Tiger snake Unidentified - Australia Shine (1987a)
Pseudechis australis Mulga snake Unidentified - South Australia Shine (1987b)
Walterinnesia aegyptia Desert cobra Dendrocopos syriacus Syrian Woodpecker Palestine Al-Safadi (2004)
Malpolon monspessulanus Montpellier snake Burhinus oedicnemus Spotted Thick-knee Spain Solis & De Lope (1995)
Carduelis carduelis European Goldfinch Spain Monrós (1997)
Carduelis chloris European Greenfinch Spain Monrós (1997)
Emberiza cirlus Cirl Bunting Spain Monrós (1997)
Journal of Field Ornithology 93(2): 1
Turdus merula Eurasian Blackbird Spain Monrós (1997)
Unknown heron - Spain Pitman (1962a)
Psammophis phillipsi Phillips’ whip snake Merops breweri Black-headed Bee-eater Gabon Schmidt & Branch (2005)
Psammophis schokari Schokari Sand Racer Pterocles orientalis Black-bellied Sandgrouse Morroco Znari et al. (2008)
Pseudaspis cana Mole snake Haematopus moquini African Oystercatcher South Africa Calf (2004)
Larus hartlaubii Hartlaub's Gull South Africa Dyer (1996)
Numida meleagris (2) Helmeted Guineafowl South Africa Dyer (1996); Van der
Westhuizen (2020)
Pavo cristatus Indian Peafowl South Africa Maritz & Maritz (2020)
Prinia maculosa Karoo Prinia South Africa Nalwanga et al. (2004)
Sphenescus demersus African Penguin South Africa Dyer (1996)
Unidentified - South Africa Maritz & Maritz (2020)
Liasis fuscus Water python Unidentified - Australia Shine & Slip (1990)
Morelia spilota Carpet python Anser anser (2) Graylag Goose Australia Shine & Fitzgerald (1996);
Fearn et al. (2001)
Gallus gallus Red Junglefowl Australia Fearn et al. (2001)
Python bivittatus Burmese python Aramus guarauna Limpkin USA Dove et al. (2012)
Eudocimus albus White Ibis USA Orzechowski et al. (2019)
Numida meleagris domesticusDomestic Guineafowl USA Dove et al. (2012)
Unidentified - USA Dove et al. (2012)
Python natalensis Southern African python Alopochen aegyptiaca Egyptian Goose South Africa Alexander (2012)
Numida meleagris Helmeted Guineafowl South Africa Koen (2021)
Python sebae African rock python Unknown goose - - Spaws et al. 2018
Bothriechis schlegelii Eyelash viper Unidentified (2) - Argentina; Trinidad
and Tobago
Skutch (1985); Menezes &
Marini (2017)
Echis carinatus Saw-scaled viper Argya caudata Common Babbler Iran Moosavi et al. (2011)
Sistrurus catenatus Massasauga Chondestes grammacus Lark Sparrow USA Brush & Ferguson (1986)
Colinus virginianus Northern Bobwhite USA Applegate (1995)
Vipera berus European adder Linaria cannabina Common Linnet United Kingdom Pitman (1962a)
Unpublished Facebook record
Domesticated bird
Fig. 1. Counts of all species and oophagous species per each
snake family with bird egg predators as reported from 471
predation records (n = 123 oophagous snake species).
Predation of bird eggs by snakes was reported on all continents on
which snakes are distributed as well as on several archipelagos and
small islands (Fig. 2). The majority of these observations (~75%)
occurred at low elevations < 500 m above sea level. Sampling
frequencies of feeding records varied between geographical regions
(Fig. 3) as most predation events were observed in North America
(37% of all records) and Africa (24% of all records). At the national
level, most records disproportionally represented the relatively well-
studied United States of America (35% of all records) and South
Africa (14% of all records) respectively. Species richness of snake
predators and bird egg prey also both varied regionally and were
similarly proportioned to the spread of predation records (Fig. 3).
Approximately 29% of recorded snake predators were from North
America, 20% from Asia, and 17% from Africa. Similarly, 31% of
identified bird taxa whose eggs were consumed were from North
America, and 23% were from Africa.
Which snakes eat bird eggs?
In Africa, the common egg-eater (Dasypeltis scabra), was
responsible for most reports of egg-eating and was most reported
for any snake species (N = 53, 11% of all records, Table 1). Common
egg-eaters consumed the eggs of at least 40 species of birds
throughout southern and East Africa, ranging from the
southernmost regions of South Africa to Uganda. Other important
oophagous African snakes included various species of cobras (Naja
spp.), boomslang (Dispholidus typus), and mole snakes (Pseudaspis
Cana) that were predominantly from southern Africa. Southern
and East African pythons (Python natalensis and Python sebae)
were also confirmed as bird egg consumers.
In North America, various rat snakes (Pantherophis spp.) were the
principal consumers of bird eggs, collectively accounting for 15%
of all records (Table1). Other frequently reported species included
several species of bullsnakes (Pituophis spp.), kingsnakes
(Lampropeltis spp.), and eastern racers (Coluber constrictor).
Collectively, snakes from the above genera consumed the eggs of
at least 66 species of bird across the USA (Fig. 2). In particular,
these snakes were most frequently observed raiding hen-houses for
the eggs of Domestic Chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus) and often
consumed the eggs of Black-capped Vireos (Vireo atricapilla), Field
Sparrows (Spizella pusilla), Northern Bobwhites (Colinus
virginianus), and several species of ducks and geese. In Florida, the
invasive Burmese python (Python bivittatus) consumed the eggs of
Limpkins (Aramus guarauna), American White Ibises (Eudocimus
albus), and introduced Helmeted Guinea Fowl (Numida meleagris).
Journal of Field Ornithology 93(2): 1
Fig. 2. Map of locations of predation events between snakes and bird eggs where coordinates could be determined.
Fig. 3. Summary of the numbers of feeding records of snakes
eating bird eggs across major continental regions. Values above
each bar represent count data.
Other notable North American oophagous snakes included
common garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis), eastern indigo snakes
(Drymarchon couperi), and massasaugas (Sistrurus catenatus), the
only viperid from North America included on our list.
Neotropical snakes from Central and South America that
consumed bird eggs mostly included several species of colubrids
(Table 1). Western indigo snakes (Drymarchon corais), several
species of puffing snakes (Phrynonax spp.), and both species of
chicken snakes (Spilotes pullatus and S. sulphureus) were the
principal egg predators in these regions. Records involving those
species were largely restricted to regions in Brazil and Peru but
extended as far south as Chile and as far north as Costa Rica (Fig.
2). Collectively, Neotropical colubrids consumed the eggs of at least
20 species of birds. Large boas and anacondas of the genera Boa,
Epicrates, and Eunectes were observed consuming the eggs of at
least seven species of birds in various habitats in Brazil and
Argentina. Similarly, in the Caribbean, several species of Antillean
boas (Chilabothrus spp.) were notable bird egg predators.
In Europe, only five species of snakes were reported consuming
bird eggs (Table 1). The most frequently reported species were the
four-lined snake (Elaphe quatuorlineata) in Italy and the
Montpellier snake (Malpolon monspessulanus) in Spain. The
European adder (Vipera berus) in the United Kingdom, the
Aesculapian snake (Zamenis longissimus) in Italy and Poland, and
the ladder snake (Zamenis scalaris) in Spain were also confirmed
as oophagous. Those snakes were frequently recorded consuming
the eggs of Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus), Great Tit
(Parus major), Common Linnet (Linaria cannabina), and Common
Babbler (Argya caudata). We only found one record of bird egg
predation in the Middle East which was of the Arabian tiger snake
(Telescopus dhara).
Across the oceanic region of Asia, Australia, and Micronesia, cat
snakes of the genus Boiga were the predominant bird egg predators.
Records of these snakes accounted for 6% of our dataset (Table 1).
More than half of those observations were of the invasive brown
tree snake (Boiga irregularis; N = 16) on the island of Guam (Fig.
2). Predations by other cat snakes (B. cyanea, B. cynodon, B.
dendrophilia, B. kraepelini, B. ochracea, and B. siamensis) were
observed on several islands and coastal regions of South-East Asia.
Asian rat snakes (Elaphe spp.) were important predators of bird
eggs in habitats across China and offshore Japan. In India and
surrounding areas, the bird egg specialist Indian egg-eater
(Elachistodon westermanni) purportedly consumed the eggs of
several species of birds similarly to African Dasypeltis. However,
few feeding records for these snakes have been published. Lastly,
while few observations were reported from Australia, at least two
species of pythons (Liasus fuscus and Morelia spilota) and three
species of elapid snakes (Denisonia devisi, Notechis scutatus, and
Pseudechis australis) consumed bird eggs in this region.
Journal of Field Ornithology 93(2): 1
Body lengths and habitat use of oophagous snakes
Oophagous snakes averaged 2057 mm in maximum length,
ranging by an order of magnitude in size from 600 mm (Denisonia
devisi) to 6000 mm (Python bivittatus). However, most of these
species ranged between 1500 mm to 2000 mm in maximum length.
The distribution of maximum body lengths of oophagous snakes
differed significantly from snakes in general (D = 0.671, P < 0.001;
Fig 4.A). Oophagous snakes were significantly larger in maximum
length on average compared to other snakes (Phylogenetic
ANOVA: F1, 3501 = 307.322, P < 0.001). Body size thus appears to
be an important component of bird egg consumption by snakes.
Most snake species in our list were terrestrial (60% of all 123 taxa)
rather than semi-arboreal (21% of all 123 taxa) or arboreal (17%
of all 123 taxa). Only two species (Laticauda colubrina and
Thamnophis hammondii) were aquatic (~2% of all 123 species),
and none of the species in our list was fossorial. We found no
differences in the body sizes of snakes of differing habitats
(Phylogenetic ANOVA: F3, 105 = 2.117, P = 0.339). Thus,
differences in body size of oophagous and non-oophagous snakes
are unlikely driven by differences in habitat use. Additionally, we
found a low phylogenetic signal for oophagy in snakes
(Blomberg’s K value of 0.065; P = 0.504), indicating that this trait
evolves independently of phylogenetic relatedness.
Sizes of consumed bird eggs
Consumed bird eggs snakes ranged between 10 mm (Zebra Finch,
Taeniopygia guttata) and 58 mm (Domestic Goose, Anser
domesticus) in average diameter. Approximately 64% of the eggs
consumed by snakes were on average narrower than the mean of
this range (24.38 mm, back-transformed from log widths).
Overall, the relative distribution of egg diameters did not differ
between consumed eggs and all other eggs (D = 0.061, P = 0.602,
Fig. 4B). The same pattern was found when comparing 100
samples randomly drawn from each distribution (D = 0.091, P =
0.813). Moreover, average egg diameters of both groups were
statistically similar in size (Phylogenetic ANOVA: F1, 2342 = 0.570,
P < 0.723; Fig. 4B).
Relationship between snake-size and bird egg-size
With the exception of predation events involving the uniquely
adapted, bird egg specialist Dasypeltis, snake species in the lowest
size classes (i.e., < 2 m in length) mostly consumed narrow bird
eggs (< 20 mm; Fig. 5). Larger-bodied species mostly consumed
narrow and moderately-sized eggs but also consumed bulkier eggs
inaccessible to most other smaller-bodied species.
Our search for reports of snakes consuming bird eggs produced
471 feeding records from 238 individual data sources. From those
reports, we produced a global list of oophagous snakes spanning
123 species, 58 genera, and seven families. Our list greatly exceeds
prior attempts at cataloguing predatory interactions between
snakes and bird eggs but is similarly geographically biased to a
few well-sampled regions. For instance, we compiled nearly five
times more records of snakes consuming bird eggs than Grundler
(2020), 98 records across 50 snake taxa, but 60% of our records
were from North America and southern Africa together.
Collectively, the snakes on our list consumed the eggs of at least
210 species of birds across a variety of different families and
orders. Our examination of traits of identified snake species and
Fig. 4. Distributions of (A) maximum body lengths (in mm) of
all snakes, snakes that consume eggs, and snakes that do not,
and (B) average diameters of bird eggs (in mm) consumed and
not consumed by snakes.
bird egg prey revealed that most oophagous snakes are large-
bodied terrestrial species and that narrow bird eggs are most
frequently, but not disproportionally, consumed. We identified
several trends in the data that we hope will form the basis for
testable hypotheses and serve as indicators of sampling bias that
needs to be addressed.
What we know about bird egg feeding by snakes
There are currently 3921 recognized species of snakes (Uetz et al.
2021) distributed across the globe, all of which are predators
(Greene 1997, Cundall and Greene 2000). Excluding the 471
species of invertebrate specialist Scolecophidian snakes (i.e., the
blind snakes and thread snakes), the vast majority of the
remaining 3450 species feed on vertebrate prey. Our list of 123
snake taxa represents a meagre 4% of those species. Bird eggs thus
appear to be an uncommon source of prey for snakes overall.
However, our list is undeniably an under-representation of the
full range of snakes that consume bird eggs. Many congeners and
close relatives of several taxa in our list almost certainly also
consume bird eggs but have yet to be directly reported as doing
so. For example, despite all 16 members of the genus Dasypeltis
being known as obligate bird egg specialists (Bates and Little 2013,
Bates and Broadley 2018), we only found feeding records for four
of these species.
Journal of Field Ornithology 93(2): 1
Fig. 5. Sankey diagram depicting the association between snake
lengths and the widths of consumed bird eggs across 384
reported predation events. All snakes mostly consumed small
eggs but only large snakes and Dasypeltis consumed bulky eggs.
Unsurprisingly, most of the species on our list were represented
by only a handful of feeding records. Only ten species had ten or
more records, and nearly half of the species were represented by
only a single observation. This paucity of feeding records, of
which a large proportion represent apparently novel observations,
highlights our limited understanding of bird egg predation by
snakes. Moreover, additional factors like method-specific biases
in feeding data collection also limit the extent of this knowledge.
Several studies have highlighted the propensity at which different
sampling techniques can affect the quality and quantity of
collected dietary information for snakes (Rodrigues-Robles 1998,
Glaudas et al. 2017, Maritz and Maritz 2020). As a result, even
the diets of species that are relatively “well-known” may be
incomplete because the methods used to collect feeding data for
those taxa may have been unfavourable towards detecting prey
like bird eggs. From this perspective, it is clear that continued
reporting of novel feeding records, increased publications of
descriptive studies of snake diets, and especially investigations of
nest predation will lead to additional identifications of species
suitable for inclusion in our list.
Most of the observed predations between snakes and bird eggs
took place in the USA. However, at similarly high latitudes east
of the Atlantic Ocean, exceedingly few records were reported.
Moreover, there were no records at latitudes exceeding 60° N. The
paucity of records at high latitudes regions can likely be explained
by the limited numbers of snake species that occur in those
regions. Snake species richness at high latitudes is relatively low
compared to regions closer to the equator and in the southern
hemisphere. For example, while there are around 200 species of
snakes distributed across the USA there are fewer than 30 species
in Canada (Ernst and Ernst 2003). Similarly, in most of northern
Europe, there are fewer than 10 species of snakes, and in Russia,
there are fewer than 45 species (Uetz et al. 2021). The lack of
records from these areas is therefore not surprising given that egg
consumption is uncommon in snakes and even in areas with high
species richness, there are few records.
External factors unrelated to snake occurrences may also have
inhibited records from being published. Several regions with high
snake species richness are represented by only a few records of
egg consumption (for example, West Africa, North Africa, India,
and China). In some of those areas, the financial constraints on
publishing may make it difficult to report on observations (see
Mekonnen et al. 2021) since it may simply be too expensive to
publish, especially for standalone observations like dietary
feeding records. Additionally, sampling biases caused by a lack
of interest in avian or reptile ecology may also have hindered
observations of oophagy being reported.
Why don’t more snakes eat bird eggs?
While detailed dietary records are not available for many species
(Grundler 2020), the feeding habits of most snakes are either at
least generally known or can be inferred from life-history traits
and the diets of their close relatives (Greene 1997, Cundall and
Greene 2000). While not without exception, such inferred
generalized assertions of snake feeding habits are often supported
by detailed dietary studies (Bates and Little 2013, Maritz et al.
2019, Maritz et al. 2021a). Many species of snakes can be ruled
out as consumers of bird eggs because they occur in areas where
other prey types may be more abundant, easier to forage, or less
difficult to consume. Alternatively, these snakes may lack the
necessary morphology or physiology to consume eggs. Egg-
specialist species like Dasypeltis possess unique adaptations that
facilitate egg swallowing such as reduced teeth and vertebral
modifications (Gans 1952) that most other snakes do not have.
Factors like limitations in gape size, active selection of different
prey, differences in encounter rates, and variable habitat use each
contribute to the selectivity of different prey types, including bird
eggs (de Queiroz and Rodríguez-Robles 2006).
Our results demonstrate that most snakes that consume bird eggs
are large-bodied, exceeding 2000 mm in maximum length.
Comparatively, the average maximum length of snakes overall is
only ~800 mm (Feldman et al. 2016). Snake body size appears to
play an important role in the inclusion of bird eggs in snake diets.
Longer snakes tend to have larger gapes, and as a result, larger
snakes are generally able to consume bulkier and heavier prey
than smaller snakes (Arnold 1993, Cundall and Greene 2000).
The ovoid shapes and wide cross-sectional diameters of eggs
relative to snake head dimensions make them difficult for snakes
with narrow gapes to handle and ingest (de Queiroz and
Rodríguez-Robles 2006). Some small-bodied species like those in
Journal of Field Ornithology 93(2): 1
the genera Dasypeltis and Elachistodon overcome these
mechanical constraints using specialized morphological features
(Bates and Little 2013, Dandge and Tiple 2016) but most other
small-bodied snakes are morphologically ill-equipped to ingest
this type of prey (Gartner and Greene 2008).
The relationship between snake body size and bird egg prey sizes
further illustrates the importance of relative prey bulk in
facilitating these interactions. Most snakes, including several
large-bodied boas and pythons, consumed relatively narrow eggs
compared to their own lengths. This pattern reflects the findings
of Gartner and Greene (2008) who quantified the egg-eating
performance of Lampropeltis getula and found that adult
specimens could only ingest modestly sized eggs relative to the
dimensions of their feeding apparatus whereas juveniles could
not ingest eggs at all. Those results highlight the body-size
mediated mechanical difficulty of bird egg consumption for
snakes and support the general predator-size, prey-size pattern
found here. However, this pattern is not without exception given
that several snakes consume bulky chicken, duck, and goose eggs.
Apart from body size and gape size limitations, specific
predispositions towards hunting particular prey also preclude
several species of snakes from predating bird eggs. In snakes, the
habit of eating the eggs of an animal tends to arise from first
eating the corresponding laying animal (de Queiroz and
Rodríguez-Robles 2006, Maritz et al. 2021c). This is thought to
be because the eggs of an animal share chemical cues with the
parent animal, and so 1) this allows snakes to recognize the eggs
as suitable food, and 2) leads to greater encounter rates of those
organisms (de Queiroz and Rodríguez-Robles 2006). As a result,
because relatively few species of snakes consume birds (Greene
1997, Cundall and Greene 2000), few species consume the eggs
of birds because they do not associate them as appropriate prey.
Snakes may also actively exclude bird eggs from their diet in favour
of other prey. Relative to their size, bird eggs are filled with
calories, lipids, proteins, and water (Sotherland and Rahn 1987)
but because of their size and associated high handling costs offer
lower energetic payoffs to most other vertebrate prey (Greene et
al. 2013). Snakes that prey on bird eggs can compensate for this
by eating multiple eggs in a single meal, a trend that our data
suggests occurs often. However, most species of birds lay small
clutches with few eggs (Baicich and Harrison 2005, Tarboton
2011). Moreover, bird eggs are sedentary and nests are often
difficult to locate (Nalwanga et al. 2004). For many species of
snakes, the energetic costs of searching for nests with eggs likely
outweigh the costs of foraging other, more easily detectable and
energetically profitable prey. As a result, it is likely optimal for
most snakes to exclude bird eggs in favour of other prey. In
particular, large snakes should theoretically prefer singular, heavy
prey items that provide a surplus of energy whereas smaller-
bodied snakes probably prefer less bulky prey that are easier to
consume (Shine 1991a).
Differences in foraging mode (i.e., active foraging versus ambush
foraging) and lifestyle habits between snakes also greatly affect
the chances of species encountering sedentary prey like bird eggs
(Greene 1997, Alencar et al. 2013). Sit-and-wait foraging snakes
probably only rarely encounter nesting birds and even less so bird
eggs. Similarly, aquatic and fossorial species will encounter bird
eggs considerably less often than arboreal and terrestrial species.
Surprisingly, the majority of the species in our list were terrestrial
rather than arboreal or semi-arboreal. However, we suspect that
this is likely an artefact of sampling bias rather than a reflection
of true biological patterns as terrestrial snakes are easier to detect
than arboreal species (Pizzatto et al. 2007). Additionally, most
occurrences of egg predation took place in habitats at low
elevations (< 500 m above sea level) which could also be indicative
of biased sampling efforts since high altitudes are generally
difficult to access.
Importance of identifying snake predators of bird eggs
Identifying the snake predators of bird eggs is a key first step
toward understanding the extent of their roles in nest predation
and the potential implications thereof (Weatherhead and Blouin-
Demers 2004, Lahti 2009; Menezes and Marini 2017). By knowing
which snakes occur in a given area and which of those species eat
bird eggs, researchers can consider species-specific hypotheses
informed by existing knowledge of the demographics, ecologies,
and natural histories of those particular species (for example
Barends and Maritz 2021). Ultimately, this will lead to
investigations that further our understanding of the relative
importance of different snakes towards avian breeding success
and more broadly, their impacts on ecosystem functioning (Reidy
and Thompson 2012, DeGregorio et al. 2016a). Importantly,
these investigations can also inform conservation strategies that
seek to manage or protect endangered or vulnerable species of
birds (Carter et al. 2007, Thompson and Ribic 2012).
Our primary objective of this review was to compile a
comprehensive list of snake species unambiguously categorized
as predators of bird eggs. We hope that this list can act as a baseline
for further research seeking to understand patterns of nest
predation by snakes and their impacts on avian ecology. By
searching through the literature, citizen science reports, and social
media, we provide a summary of accounts of bird egg predation
by snakes that can act as a foundation for a consolidated database
for further research.
Responses to this article can be read online at:
We thank the various authors who have published observations of
snakes predating bird eggs. We further thank Harry Greene, Steven
Spawls, Sahas Barve, Praveen Jayadevan, Yatin Kalki, and
especially Gustavo Adolfo Londoño Guerrero for pointing us
towards additional feeding records. This work was supported by the
National Research Foundation (UIDs: 118090, 123281, and
Data Availability:
Supplementary electronic datasets are available on Figshare https://
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Full-text available
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With open-access publishing authors often pay an article processing charge and subsequently their article is freely available online. These charges are beyond the reach of most African academics. Thus, the trend towards open-access publishing will shift the business model from a pay-wall model, where access to literature is limited, to a pay-to-publish one, where African scholars cannot afford to publish. We explore the costs of publishing and the ability of African scholars to afford to publish via open access in top journals. Three-quarters of the 40 top ecology journals required payment for open-access publishing (average cost $3150). Paying such fees is a hardship for African scholars as grant funding is not available and it is not feasible to pay the fees themselves as salaries are low. We encourage funders and publishers to facilitate an equitable publishing model that allows African scholars to make their research available through open-access publishing.
Full-text available
Interspecific competition for limited resources should theoretically occur between species that are morphologically similar to each other. Consequently, species that reduce competition by adapting to specialize on a specific resource should be morphologically disparate to sympatric contemporaries and show evidence of phenotypic specialization. However, few studies have compared the morphologies of specialist and generalist competitors. In this context, we compare the feeding morphology and diet of an obligate, specialist, bird‐egg‐eating snake to three sympatric generalists that only facultatively consume bird eggs. We measured and compared body and head morphology of preserved museum specimens of each of four, syntopic snake species from southern Africa: the obligate bird‐egg‐eating rhombic egg‐eater (Dasypeltis scabra), and the facultative bird‐egg‐eating boomslang (Dispholidus typus), cape cobra (Naja nivea) and mole snake (Pseudaspis cana). Given the physical challenges of consuming bird eggs in snakes, we predicted that consumption of bird eggs would be facilitated by the evolution of relatively larger heads in the smaller‐bodied Dasypeltis. We found that head size was not phylogenetically conserved in the clades of these taxa and that contrary to our expectations, the specialist egg‐eaters evolved to possess significantly smaller heads relative to body size than their competitors. We found a positive relationship between dietary niche breadth and head size within these species and their close relatives. Thus, relatively large‐headed species have evolved diverse diets that overlap with the restricted diets of the small‐headed specialist thereby producing this atypical competitive interaction. Our findings suggest that specialized adaptations can decouple typical body‐size‐constrained competition dynamics between sympatric snake species and highlight the complexity of the origins of dietary specialization. African egg‐eating snakes have smaller‐sized heads, both in absolutely terms and relative to body size, than other bird‐egg‐eating snakes. As a result, these snakes must compete with morphologically dissimilar species to themselves, a pattern that is typically unusual in snakes.
Identifying the traits of ancestral organisms can reveal patterns and drivers of organismal diversification. Unfortunately, reconstructing complex multistate traits (such as diet) remains challenging. Adopting a ‘reconstruct, then aggregate’ approach in a maximum likelihood framework, we reconstructed ancestral diets for 298 species of elapid snakes. We tested whether different prey types were correlated with one another, tested for one-way contingency between prey type pairs, and examined the relationship between snake body size and dietary composition. We demonstrate that the evolution of diet was characterized by niche conservation punctuated by repeated dietary shifts. The ancestor of elapids most likely fed on reptiles and possibly amphibians, with deviations from this ancestral diet occurring repeatedly due to shifts into marine environments and changes in body size. Moreover, we demonstrate important patterns of prey use, including one-way dependency—most obviously the inclusion of eggs being dependent on a diet that already included the producers of those eggs. Despite imperfect dietary data, our approach produced a robust overview of dietary evolution. Given the paucity of natural history information for many organisms, our approach has the potential to increase the number of lineages to which ancestral state reconstructions of multistate traits can be robustly applied.
Animal distribution in a landscape depends mostly on the availability of resources. This can be facilitated by other species that have positive effects on local species diversity and impact community structure. Species that significantly change resource availability are often termed ecosystem engineers. Identifying these species is key but predicting where they have large or small impacts is an even greater challenge. The stress‐gradient hypothesis predicts that the importance of facilitative interactions that shape community structure and function will increase in stressful and harsh environments. In most environments, conditions will fluctuate between harsh and benign periods, yet how the impacts of ecosystem engineers will change in different conditions has received little attention. Monitoring for extended periods will increase the understanding of how engineers may mitigate the extreme differences between changing seasons. We investigated the role of sociable weavers (Philetairus socius) as ecosystem engineers and examined how the association of species to weaver colonies may vary across a seasonal (temporal) gradient. Sociable weavers build large colonies that are home to hundreds of weaver individuals but also host a wide range of other animal species. We investigated the use of weaver colonies by terrestrial and arboreal vertebrates and birds throughout a calendar year, encompassing harsh and benign periods. We demonstrate that the presence of sociable weaver colonies creates centres of animal activity. Colonies were used by the local Kalahari animal community for foraging, shade, territorial behaviours and roosting sites. Furthermore, animal activity increased with increased primary productivity, but this was not restricted to weaver colonies, suggesting that the importance of colonies does not directionally change across environmental conditions. Our results were not consistent with predictions of the stress‐gradient hypothesis across a temporal gradient. We demonstrate the importance of sociable weavers as ecological engineers and the significance of their colonies in structuring the surrounding animal community. Colonies appear to provide a range of different resources for different species. Sociable weaver colonies have large ecological importance to local animal communities and, by mitigating environmental stress, may be increasingly important as human‐driven climate change advances.
The lack of detailed natural history information required to precisely characterise the diets of many organisms often results in the use of generalised descriptions of those diets. These descriptions can become dogmatic, and should be challenged with novel observational data when those data become available. We tested the characterisation of cape centipede eaters (Aparallactus capensis) as centipede-eating specialists that consume centipedes to the exclusion of other prey types. We dissected 62 preserved A. capensis specimens and identified stomach contents. Fifteen specimens contained a total of 16 prey items, all of which were identifiable as centipedes. Taking a simulation approach, we calculate the probability of all known wild prey items (n = 21) being centipedes under a range of different simulated diets. We show that if cape centipede eaters do eat non-centipede prey, they do so very infrequently. Although all reported prey items for A. capensis are from the order Scolopendromorpha, a survey of 453 citizen science records of South African centipedes suggests that members of this order account for two thirds of all observations. These data do not allow us to reject the hypothesis that cape centipede eaters consume different centipede prey proportionally to what the encounter.