Self-fumigating birds and manna from heaven: The remarkable forty-spotted pardalote

Date: 05, Jun, 2019
Author(s):   Fernanda Alves
Publisher: TSR Hub

The forty-spotted pardalote has suffered severe range contraction. Although once widespread in Tasmania, this endangered bird is now largely confined to two south-eastern Tasmanian islands, Bruny and Maria. To add to pardalote woes, the larvae of a fly parasite that feeds on the blood of nestlings has been compromising its breeding success. However, researcher Fernanda Alves, from the Australian National University, has some good news. She reports on experiments that encourage forty-spotted pardalotes to "self-fumigate" their nests by incorporating chicken feathers treated with a bird-safe insecticide. Fernanda takes up the story.