Monday, April 16, 2007

Ceratophyllus gallinae

While doing the rounds this Saturday at the Pied Fly site in Wales we had recourse to move one of the nest-boxes from a site where it had not been used regularly to a new, hopefully more productive position. Carrying said box from a to b was quite easy - just hook a figure into the entrance hole and carry it - easy. It wasn't until about 10 minutes later we realised the absolute error in our simplicity - Ceratophyllus gallinae - the little bu**ers were everywhere! (as I sit here itching every little encounter).

This flea over-winters in a larval stage within a nest box (that's why we clear them out every autumn) before emerging with the warmth of spring. Then, if they do not find a blood meal quickly from their bird host they start to move around to feed their hunger. Enter one ringer and mate, sitting targets for hungry fleas.
As the literature states - no small comfort when you've already been bitten to death - they do not live long outside of the nest environment and believe you me these critters didn't live long at all.
So, ringing is not all sweetness and light, you do have to suffer a little on the way. However all that will be forgotten when the Pied Fly's and Redstarts arrive back.

Oh yes, picture not to scale (thankfully).

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