Avian movements are an important mechanism by which ticks and associated pathogens can colonize new locations. The temporal and geographic extent of tick and pathogen dispersal is dependent on tick phenology and host movements across a landscape. We evaluated bird-host traits and habitat characteristics that may influence tick infestation and subsequent dispersal in Illinois. To determine which characteristics of host species and habitats influence infestation, we examined captured birds in 22 forest patches across east-central Illinois during migratory periods in fall of 2012 and 2013, and spring of 2013 and 2014. We examined 1,028 birds of 78 species; 136 (13.2%) individuals representing 33 (42.3%) species were infested with at least one tick. We determined that infestation prevalence was greatest among birds that 1) forage primarily in the forest understory; 2) use large forest patches; 3) use patches with less invasive shrub cover. Furthermore, infestation intensity was greatest among birds captured during fall migration. These findings highlight the importance of avian and habitat traits that may influence tick infestation among passerine birds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)550-558
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of medical entomology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2017


  • Fragmentation
  • Infestation
  • Migration
  • Passerine
  • Tick

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • General Veterinary
  • Insect Science
  • Infectious Diseases


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