Catching and banding in a garden

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We were catching birds in Gittan’s garden, as well as that of a neighbour, today. Four birds were caught, two Fieldfares Turdus pilaris, one Tree Sparrow Passer montanus, and one Nuthatch Sitta europaea. As Gittan was at work, I got to band all of them, meaning that I’ve now banded birds in Sweden for the first time since… I think I banded some in Umeå when I was there a few years ago, but I’m not sure. Otherwise, it would be the first time since Padjelanta in 2008. I’ve banded more birds in Japan than in Sweden, probably, and did do some banding in Canada, but before Padjelanta, I think I have to go back to the 90s before I get to any banding I remember having done (at Landsjön, when I was going to be a banding assistant, before gymnasium…).

Interestingly, both the thrushes had lice. We caught a male and a female, possibly a breeding couple. They had different species of lice, though, which makes me wonder.

We got five or so Brueelia sp. from the body feathers of the male. There are two species of Brueelia s. lat. on this bird, and I can’t tell for sure which one it is before I’ve looked at them in the lab. Judging from where we caught them, and the short glimpses I got of them (Heidi did the collecting), they are likely Brueelia marginata (Burmeister, 1838), which will eventually be placed in the genus Guimaraesiella Eichler, 1949, after our revision.

The female, on the other hand, gave us about 20 Philopterus bischoffi Eichler, 1951 from the head.

If the birds were a mated pair, it seems reasonable to assume that the lice would spread laterally between them, during mating. This has previously been shown to be the case for lice on Pheasants Phasianus colchicus, by Hillgarth (1996). At the very least, the body lice should have had the opportunity to transfer, but these were only found on the male. The question (which I cannot answer) is: are these not a breeding pair, or did the lice fail to transfer? Or something else?

In any case, two new louse species collected for this trip, and this is the first time we get 50% of the birds we catch during a day having lice! That doesn’t sound as impressive when you consider that there were only four birds.. when I was in Canada catching shorebirds, we generally got to 90-100% infested birds!

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