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MOSQUITOES & BIRDS



> Birds do not carry fleas or lice, nor are they often bitten by
> mosquitoes.  Even the so-called b ird-lice stay in the n est
> and feed on the  young birds, and are not carried around by
> the adult birds.

Both untrue, as someone has already said.. Those of us who have had starlings
or other such critters nesting in the loft will know that, with the birds, come
innumerable bird fleas. OK, these fleas may well be feeding off the juvs, but
where did they come from in the first place. Yes, adults have fleas.

> I can't really see a b iting i nsect managing to bit an adult bird
> through the "armour" of the contour feathers.  Mosquitoes and
> horse flies seem to h ave co-evolved with th e mammals, and
> are primarily parasites of them, not of birds.

Birds get bitten by mosquitoes mainly around the eyes, where there is typically
bare skin. In fact, a number of Hawaiian honeycreepers have been done in by
alien mosquitos carrying avian malaria - the NG article on Hawaiian fauna has
a blow-up photo of a mosquito snacking at the edge of a honeycreeper's eye.

"From certain terms occurring in the Maori language, and from most recent
observations we may infer beyond a little doubt, that New Zealand still harbours
some few sporadic mammalia.."

DARREN NAISH
dwn194@soton.ac.uk