quail eggsFor years here in VA we have been blaming critters like raccoons, skunks and opossums for for preying on quail nests and contributing to the decline of wild birds here, but could another nest predator be to blame?

Whitetail deer!

Nola.com: Pam Pietz, a wildlife biologist at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center in North Dakota, set up miniature video cameras that ran 24 hours a day to document the fate of grassland songbird nests. She was surprised to find deer raided as many nests as badgers, and more than weasels or red foxes.

I can see a deer munching songbird or quail eggs if it happens across them, but Pietz’s research found they will also eat tiny unborn birds in a nest!

Biologists say that whitetails probably don’t go looking for nests to raid, but if they stumble across a nest full of eggs or babies they consume them and move on. And It does not appear to happen enough to be a major factor in the decline of wild quail or other bird populations.

The world of the whitetail sure is fascinating.