Amphibious snails attached to the breast feathers of a Northern Bobwhite

Brian E. Flock, Roger D. Applegate, Richard D. McKown, Philip S. Gipson, Kevin Cummings, Jeremy S. Tiemann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Little information is available on how aquatic and amphibious snails disperse from isolated wetlands. Rees (1965) reported dispersal via wind-born events (e.g., tornadoes, hurricanes, typhoons), insects (e.g., attaching to the legs of bees), and birds (e.g., stuck in mud on the feet of waterfowl) as likely vectors, and Malone (1965a), van Leeuwen et al. (2012), and Wada et al. (2012) suggested that snails can survive the gut passage of birds when consumed and therefore can be dispersed when flying from one water body to another. Additional observations include anecdotal accounts of aquatic and amphibious snails externally attaching to birds. McAtee (1914) reported Physa (Physiidae) in the wings of numerous “Upland Plovers” (= Upland Sandpiper, Bartramia longicauda), and Ramsden (1914) collected Succinea riisei (Succineidae) on spring migrating Bobolinks (Dolichonyx oryzivorus). Roscoe (1955) found several taxa (Physa, Lymnaea (Lymnaeidae), and Helisoma (Planorbidae)) attached to a White-faced Glossy Ibis (Plegadis chihi) while checking a specimen for ectoparasites. Malone (1965b) suggested it would be possible for snails (i.e., Galba [=Fossaria] obrussa (Lymnaeidae) and Promenetus exacuous (Planorbidae)) to attach themselves to the legs and feet of Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus), whereas van Leeuwen and van der Velde (2012) showed that snails (i.e., Anisus vortex (Planorbidae), Gyraulus albus (Planorbidae), and Radix balthica (Lymnaeidae)) readily attach to the feathers, feet, and bills of Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos). Most recently, Zenzal et al. (2017) reported Galba cubensis in the breast feathers of an Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea). Other than these experiments and observations, we are not aware of other published reports of aquatic and amphibious snails being attached to birds. Herein, we discuss the occurrence of amphibious snails being attached to the breast feathers of a Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) in southeastern Kansas and how they may have gotten there.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-86
Number of pages3
JournalTransactions of the Kansas Academy of Science
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2018


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