Behavioural and reproductive flexibility of an invasive bird in an arid zone: a case of the Indian house crow (Corvus splendens).
Of all the invasive species, 20-30% are considered as pests that cause ecological and economic damage. They are considered a threat to the natural environment second only to habitat loss. In the framework of a broader study of the breeding ecology of the invasive Indian House Crow in the arid city of Eilat, we observed the behavioural plasticity and reproductive versatility in the face of a stochastic event in the form of a strong thunder storm. Crows that nested in palm crowns recorded total nest failures owing to inundation of the nests. Pairs that built their nest under the palm crowns or in Tamarix and Eucalyptus trees survived the storm without any nest losses. Eight days later, the crows that lost their broods initiated new nests on the same palms, but all were located under the crowns. The replacement clutches were smaller in comparison to the first breeding attempts of the same pairs but the number of fledglings did not differ from the first and only breeding attempts of the other breeding pairs which did not suffer from the storm. A year later, in the next breeding season, a total of 31 active nests were found in palm trees and all were placed under the crown. Our study demonstrates the resilience and behavioural flexibility connected with a fast learning process of the invasive House Crow, and its ability to overcome environmental handicaps.