Both hectic and calm, today, with no less than 64 birds examined so far, with lice only from two towards the end:
1. An unidentified menoponid from the Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus
2. Two Brueelia [= Acronirmus] gracilis from a House Martin Delichon urbica.
Identifying the menoponid from the Cuckoo may be very hard, especially as I don’t have a dissection microscope here. Not only do Cuckoos have their very own menoponid genus (Cuculiphilus Uchida, 1926; see Scharf and Price, 1965), they are also prone to retaining the lice of their nest host, at least the first year (see Brooke and Nakamura, 1998; Lindholm et al., 1998). As this was a first-year bird, the louse could thus be any menoponid that occurs on any potential host for the Cuckoo in all of Northern Europe. It helps a bit, I guess, that most menoponids on passerines are considered the same species so far: Menacanthus eurysternus (Burmeister, 1838) – on over 150 hosts across the world! Genetic data I’ve seen at the conference in Ürgüp in 2010 suggests that this is an oversimplification, though, so it will be interesting to see how this pans out. I’ve sent some material to that research group as well, and hope to cooperate more on this in the future.
More delightfully, though, I’ve seen that the Sundre Group, where Heidi is collecting, has put up some pictures of her collecting on their blog!
Brooke, M. de L., Nakamura, H. (1998). The acquisition of host-specific feather lice by
Common Cuckoos (Cuculus canorus). Journal of Zoology, London, 244, 167–173.
Burmeister, H. (1838). Mallophaga Nitzsch. Handbuch der Entomologie, Berlin, 2, 418-443.
Lindholm, A.K., Venter, G.J., Ueckermann, E.A. (1998). Persistence of passerine
ectoparasites of the Diederik Cuckoo Chrysococcyz caprius. Journal of Zoology, London,
Scharf, W.C., Price, R.D. (1965). A taxonomic study of the genus Cuculiphilus (Mallophaga: Menoponidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 58, 546-555.
Uchida, S. (1926). Studies on amblycerous Mallophaga of Japan. Journal of the College of Agriculture, Imperial University of Tokyo, 9, 1-56.