Nest-site characteristics and breeding density of Magpie Pica pica in Sombor (NW Serbia)

Thomas Mérő 1 , Antun Žuljević 2  and Katalin Varga 3
  • 1 Milana Rakića 20, RS-25000 Sombor, Serbia
  • 2 Vere Gucunje 20, RS-25000 Sombor, Serbia
  • 3 Department of Ecology, Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Debrecen, Egyetem tér 1, HU-4032 Debrecen, Hungary

Nest-site characteristics and breeding density of Magpie Pica pica in Sombor (NW Serbia)

In March 2009, active Magpie Pica pica nests were censused in the town of Sombor (Vojvodina, NW Serbia) to study nest-site characteristics, breeding density and spatial distribution. The area of the town can be divided into two parts according to different urban landscapes, i.e. the town centre (150 ha) and the residential area (2,224 ha). In total, 222 Magpie nests were found and their height, tree species and nest-site type determined. Nests were found in 25 tree and two shrub species, the most of them (31.1%) being placed in the commonest tree species in the town, the Common Hackberry Celtis occidentalis. The majority of the nests were found in tree avenues (39.6%) and groups of trees (31.5%). Nests in the town centre with a mean height (± SD) of 15.2 ± 4.05 m were significantly higher than those in the residential area with a mean height (± SD) of 11.4 ± 5.13 m. The mean distance of nests from the top of the canopy (± SD) was 1.5 ± 1.33 m, demonstrating the Magpie's tendency to place its nests in the very tops of trees in the urban areas. In the residential area, nests were present in every height class, while in the town centre they were not found lower than 5 m. This difference can be explained by denser human population in the town centre and hence greater disturbance (e.g. pedestrians), as found in several other studies, but also by the negative effect of high buildings that prevail there. Thus, the height of surrounding buildings, too, might play an important role in nest-site selection in Magpies breeding in urban habitats, especially in densely built-up areas. Breeding density of Magpie in Sombor was 0.94 pairs/10 ha, with almost twice as high in the town centre as in the residential area. The findings of this study are compared to those obtained in other studies in Serbia and abroad.

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