Fumigating northern flicker Colaptes auratus nest cavities reduces the incidence of the ectoparasitic fly Carnus hemapterus and increases fledging weight of chicks

  • Published source details Wiebe K.L. (2009) Nest excavation does not reduce harmful effects of ectoparasitism: an experiment with a woodpecker, the northern flicker Colaptes auratus. Journal of Avian Biology (formerly Ornis Scandinavica 1970-1993), 40, 166-172


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Remove ectoparasites from nests to increase survival or reproductive success

Action Link
Bird Conservation
  1. Remove ectoparasites from nests to increase survival or reproductive success

    A randomised, replicated and controlled study in 2006-7 in a mixed grassland-wetland-forest ecosystem in British Columbia, Canada (Wiebe 2009) found that northern flicker Colaptes auratus nests that were fumigated (with diatomaceous earth and 0.5% pyrethrin) had fewer ectoparasitic flies Carnus hemapterus than control nests (fewer than five parasites/nestling for 33 fumigated nests vs. 10-17 parasites/nestling for 44 control nests). Chicks from control nests also fledged at lower weights than those from fumigated nests (129-132 g for females and 133-136 g for males in fumigated nests vs. 124-126 g for females and approximately 129 g for males in control nests). These relationships held for both new and reused nests.


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