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Are there birds in Britain that bury their eggs?

Sent in by Judith Andrews, Birmingham

Lots of birds do nest on, or under, the ground across the UK, but no birds actually bury their eggs.

This rather puzzling occurrence may not have been the work of a bird. I would suspect that a fox has been in the garden.

The red fox is a cunning scavenger that will feed on a range of food items including birds, mammals, carrion, scraps and if it comes across a nest, eggs. If a fox is lucky enough to come across a deserted nest of a duck or pheasant for example, it will usually eat some of the eggs there and then. However it may also want to cache some of the food for a later date.

Foxes often hide food in places such as compost heaps or in soil where it is out of the way of other hungry animals and will temporarily delay certain forms of decomposition. When the fox gets hungry, it will return to the site and remove its hidden meal.

The eggs and young of ground nesting birds are therefore quite vulnerable to passing predators such as foxes. Birds such as waders, terns and mallards combat this by having very effective camouflage which blends in to the habitat that they choose for nesting.

Many seabirds have different strategies for predator evasion. Puffins and shearwaters usually nest in burrows and cracks in coastal rocks whilst kittiwakes, razorbills and gannets choose cliff ledges for their breeding sites which are mostly out of reach of even the most cunning fox.

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