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Title: A most dangerous game: death and injury to birds from porcupine quills

Author: Katzner, Todd; Miller, Tricia A.; Rodrigue, Jane; Shaffer, Steven.;

Date: 2015

Source: The Wilson Journal of Ornithology. 127(1): 102-108.

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Predation is dangerous, not only for the prey but sometimes also for the predator. Because these dangers to predators are not well understood, we document evidence of predation or scavenging by a Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) on a North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) in Pennsylvania, USA, with potentially lethal consequences to the eagle. We also review published literature on incidence of porcupine quills causing injury or death to birds. At least nine species have been documented as having contact with porcupine quills. A minimum of 39% of these interactions resulted in death to the bird, demonstrating the risk birds face when interacting with porcupines. Predation of porcupines should be selected against and irregular, yet it apparently persists and is likely more common than currently recognized.

Keywords: Aquila chrysaetos, birds, Golden Eagle, porcupine, predation.

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Katzner, Todd; Miller, Tricia A.; Rodrigue, Jane; Shaffer, Steven. 2015. A most dangerous game: death and injury to birds from porcupine quills. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology. 127(1): 102-108.


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