Download Fleas, Flukes & Cuckoos: A Study of Bird Parasites (The New by Miriam, and Clay, Theresa Rothschild PDF

By Miriam, and Clay, Theresa Rothschild

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Extra resources for Fleas, Flukes & Cuckoos: A Study of Bird Parasites (The New Naturalist)

Sample text

A question which naturally occurs is this do nesting associations of this — — — — type, between wasps, bees and birds exist in Britain, which have hitherto been overlooked ? The obvious place to search for such an incipient SYMBIOSIS relationship is near bee-hives in gardens. 27 Birds which normally nest around human habitations are gregarious and as we have already noted, several species of birds and families of birds which manifest general gregarious tendencies, seek protection from bees and other social insects.

The buff-backed heron is a scarce wanderer in Britain, only two specimens having been recorded with certainty from this country. In its native haunts in southern Europe, Asia and Africa it is known as the cattle-egret. This bird has developed a close relationship with cattle, with which it associates in the fields, feeding on the ectoparasites which drop off them and the insects which the animals disturb in the grass as they wander through the pastures. One of the most interesting points about this partnership is the egret's predilection for domestic animals and the way in which it has modified its habits to fit in with theirs.

During the ten days following infection the parasites are found to accumulate very rapidly in the bird's blood. Then the host falls ill and displays symptoms characteristic of the disease. During this crisis the number of parasites in the peripheral blood stream increases to a peak, but after about five days the bird recovers and the parasites apparently disappear. However, a few are able to hang on in the bone-marrow and the spleen where they continue to reproduce but only in a very discreet manner.

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