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Photo © Keith Williams
Photo © Adam Wilson

Nest Parasites and Purple Martins

In this month’s blog post, we share some new research concerning Purple Martins and parasite-reduction tactics. In a study led by Dr. Heather Williams, researchers found that while Purple Martins do indeed harbor high levels of ectoparasites in their nest material, a strategy of replacing nest material with clean plant matter did not improve nestling condition or survival. In fact, it may have increased stress among nestlings due to being handled.

The article also underscores how readily parasites can recolonize a nest, stating that mite populations rebounded within a week. Ectoparasites are often among the top concerns of people who monitor birds’ nests, but the researchers behind this new study found that Purple Martins can cope with the parasites and did not need human intervention.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Cornell Lab of Ornithology