, Volume 147, Issue 1, pp 115-118

A non-invasive technique to bleed incubating birds without trapping: a blood-sucking bug in a hollow egg

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We describe a non-invasive technique to obtain blood samples from incubating birds without trapping and handling. A larval instar of the blood-sucking bug Dipetalogaster maximus (Heteroptera) was put in a hollowed artificial egg which was placed in a common tern (Sterna hirundo) nest. A gauze-covered hole in the egg allowed the bug to draw blood from the brood patch of breeding adults. We successfully collected 68 blood samples of sufficient amount (median=187 μl). The daily success rate was highest during the early breeding season and averaged 34% for all trials. We could not detect any visible response by the incubating bird to the sting of the bug. This technique allows for non-invasive blood collection from bird species of various sizes without disturbance.

Communicated by F. Bairlein