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Sand Cats resting in bird nests built in tall Acacia trees

Sand cats found resting in Brown-necked Raven nests. This original and previously undocumented behaviour was discovered in Western Sahara, southern Morocco.

Sand Cat (Felis margarita) resting in Brown-necked Raven nest, southern Morocco (J. M. Bompar and co-authors)
Sand Cat (Felis margarita) resting in Brown-necked Raven nest (J. M. Bompar and co-authors).

During a naturalist trip in the Dakhla-Aousserd region in autumn 2018, Jean-Michel Bompar and his colleagues found three sand cats (Felis margarita) resting in the nests of Brown-necked Ravens (Corvus ruficollis).

The nests were located in three different acacia trees (Acacia raddiana). These trees were quite big (at least 4 m high), isolated (no other tree within a 100 m radius), and with clear trunks holding few or no low branches (Fig. 2). The distance between the three trees varies between 43 km and 1.6 km.

All these observations were made in less than 48 hours (between 29 and 31 October 2018). Two of the nests were still ‘occupied’ by the sand cats in January and March 2019.

These observations were published in the following Cat News paper:

Bompar, J.-M., Durand, E., Durand, S. & Perrier, T. 2019. Unusual resting places of sand cat in Moroccan Sahara? Cat News 69: 8-9.

The three Sand Cats resting in Brown-necked Raven nests, and the three resting acacia trees (J. M. Bompar and co-authors).

The first photo was published in their (earlier) report, the second (composite image) in the cited paper.

Read also: Sand Cat sighted at Merzouga, Morocco, for the first time in more than 2 decades.

2 thoughts on “Sand Cats resting in bird nests built in tall Acacia trees”

  1. Alain-Jean LOISEAU

    Superb photos. I have also seen these B-N Raven nests alongside the Aousserd road , expectedly no trace of these cats in broad daylight, will think of doing the stretch at night !!! however I wonder if one SandCat could not have been responsible for the death of a sizable chick, seems to me a Buteo would not have consumed it’s prey on the spot but taken it away. Dried out corpse found at foot of acacia March 20, 2017, km-stone 152 par W14°46. Could this gentle looking feline become a fearless night prowler ? A friendly Swedish team who liked nightly foraging saw one circling around my van whilst I was sleeping at Oued Jenna, nice fresh tracks visible next morning. Will bring photo trap next time…

    1. Alain-Jean,

      Please note that two sand cats were found during the day (named A and B respectively). The first one (named A) was found during the night. So, I think it’s a matter of chance and perseverance (checking many trees using binoculars or a telescope), and I think also it depend on how widespread this behavior (and probably time of year?).

      It’s a cat and he knows how to kill. I think if it got a chance, it can kill chicks (even those of ravens, falcons,…). However, the corpse should be examined to know the exact cause of death.

      Please let us know what you will find and bonne chance!


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