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Copulation and Mate Guarding in the Yellow-Billed Magpie Pica Nuttalli and a Comparison With the Black-Billed Magpie P. Pica

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Yellow-billed magpies breed in loose colonies. Extra-pair courtship is frequent, and a comparison (I) between two adjacent areas with different inter-nest distances, and (2) with solitary, territorial European black-billed magpies, indicates that either an aggregated distribution of nests, or a relatively loose territorial system in yellow-billed magpies increases opportunities for extra-pair behaviour. Male yellow-billed magpies guard their partner by closely following them from five days before the first egg is laid. Pair copulations were infrequent, occurring 3 or 4 times per clutch, and mainly over days -5 to -3. Territoriality, which is most pronounced during the female's fertile period, may enable the male to guard his partner while simultaneously foraging to provide her with food.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Animal & Plant Sciences, P.O. Box 601, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2UQ, UK; 2: Peak National Park, Losehill Hall, Castleton, Derbyshire, S30 2WD, UK; 3: Sagehen Creek Field Station, P.O. Box 2382, Truckee, CA 95734, USA; 4: Museum of Vertebrate Zoology and Hastings Reservation, University of California, Star Route Box 80, Carmel Valley, CA 93924, USA

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