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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Experimental addition of greenery reduces flea loads in nests of a non-greenery using species, the tree swallow Tachycineta bicolor

Published source details

Shutler D. & Campbell A.A. (2007) Experimental addition of greenery reduces flea loads in nests of a non-greenery using species, the tree swallow Tachycineta bicolor. Journal of Avian Biology, 38, 7-12


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Reduce nest ectoparasites by providing beneficial nesting material Bird Conservation

A randomised, replicated and controlled experiment in 2000 at four sites in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada (Shutler & Campbell 2007) found that the number of purple martin fleas Ceratophyllus idius was significantly lower in tree swallow Tachycineta bicolor nests with fresh yarrow Achillea millefolium foliage added every two days whilst clutches were being laid, compared to control nests with no added foliage (419 fleas/nest for 23 experiomental nests vs. 773 fleas/nest for 44 controls). There were no corresponding differences in the number of blowfly Protocalliphora spp. pupae  (3.3 and 2.5 pupae/nest for experimental and control nests respectively), nestling mass (23.5 g in experimental nests vs. 23.8 g in controls), nestling leukocyte profiles, or proportion of young fledging (5.3 fledglings/nest for experimental nests vs. 5.1 fledglings/nest for controls). The authors speculate that adult tree swallows may increase provisioning rate to compensate for flea parasitism.