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28 January 2020 Greater Sage-Grouse Chick Killed by Great Basin Gopher Snake
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Abstract

Despite extensive range overlap between Great Basin gopher snakes (Pituophis catenifer deserticola) and Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) within sagebrush ecosystems, there are few documented predator–prey interactions between these species. Although gopher snakes have been observed preying on nests of other prairie grouse, studies that used video-monitoring at sage-grouse nests found gopher snakes unable to consume sage-grouse eggs and reported just a single instance of a snake consuming a <1-day-old chick in a nest bowl. On the morning of 4 June 2018 at 04:55, we observed a Great Basin gopher snake killing, constricting, and attempting to consume a 19-day-old sage-grouse chick in the foothills of the Owyhee Mountains, southwestern Idaho. This observation is the first record of a gopher snake killing a sage-grouse chick during the late brood-rearing period and highlights the likelihood that large gopher snakes are a cause of chick mortality from hatch day to at least 19 days post-hatch.

© 2020
Sarah E. McIntire, Jordan C. Rabon, Peter S. Coates, Mark A. Ricca, and Tracey N. Johnson "Greater Sage-Grouse Chick Killed by Great Basin Gopher Snake," Western North American Naturalist 80(1), 70-73, (28 January 2020). https://doi.org/10.3398/064.080.0107
Received: 16 May 2019; Accepted: 10 September 2019; Published: 28 January 2020
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