Predation of Greater Crested Tern eggs by juvenile Brown Boobies on Ashmore Reef

Jennifer L. Lavers, Ashley Herrod, Rohan H. Clarke

Waterbirds 37: 215-219 (2014)

As young seabirds approach independence, a range of tactics are sometimes employed in an attempt to secure additional food items prior to departing the nest. Detailed here are previously unreported kleptoparasitic and predatory behaviors of juvenile Brown Boobies (Sula leucogaster) on Ashmore Reef in the Timor Sea. From 14–20 November 2013, the number of Greater Crested Terns (Thalasseus bergii) breeding adjacent to a Brown Booby colony was reduced from 128 adults attending the colony to 59 adults. During this time, two juvenile Brown Boobies were observed depredating the eggs of the Greater Crested Terns and ingesting prey regurgitated by Greater Crested Terns. The factors that lead to this unusual foraging behavior in juvenile Brown Boobies are not known; however, low body mass and hunger may play a role. Repeated years of predation of Greater Crested Tern eggs by Brown Boobies could lead to the abandonment of this colony