A common concern among homeowners is whether bird feeders attract ticks. While it's difficult to determine if a tick bite comes from a bird or another animal, the answer is yes - ticks can be found on and around bird feeders as well as other areas of your yard.
Do birds carry ticks
Birds have been found to have a variety of parasites including ticks. Although it is not common for birds to harbor this type of parasite, it can occur from time to time. If you see a bird that has a tick on them, don't assume that birds are carrying large amounts of ticks to your yard.
Some people have found a bird with a tick on it so they draw the conclusion that birds carry ticks and all bird feeders will inevitably attract them. This is not the case and it could cause you to lose a great source of entertainment in your yard if you decide to remove your bird feeders because of a bird with a tick.
A bird may have picked up this particular tick from walking through grass or leafy areas where other animals such as rodents, rabbits, deer etc... reside. The likelihood that this single tick came on a bird would cause an infestation is extremely low.
So rest assured knowing that although rare - birds do carry ticks, but in much smaller quantities than what was originally thought by many people.
A common misconception about whether or not birds carry ticks is if they will transfer them onto humans. While ticks can be transferred onto humans, birds are not the cause of this. Other animals can carry ticks that will transfer them onto humans, such as foxes and raccoons.
What birds carry ticks
There are many different species of birds that carry ticks. Some examples of the birds that carry the greatest number of ticks are Nuttall's Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, and Pileated Woodpecker.
It is important to note that while birds can carry a large amount of ticks at a time, the number of ticks they actually spread isn't very high and this risk should not be considered concerning. You are more likely to have ticks spread by other animals like deer and foxes, then by birds. This doesn't mean ticks spread by birds are not a concern, it just means they are lesser of a concern and shouldn't keep you from inviting birds into your yard.
Do birds eat ticks
Not many birds eat ticks, but there are a few. If you want to control the tick population in your yard you can get some of these birds. Some of the birds that eat ticks are:
- Cattle Egret
- Guinea Fowl
How to prevent ticks
There are some things you can do to help prevent ticks on your property.
First of all, the easiest way to avoid ticks on your property is by applying tick repellents. You can apply these substances directly to your clothing or any other areas on your body that could come in contact with an infested tick.
When you go outside include permethrin-treated clothing and gear in your personal protective measures. If you have a pet, be sure to talk with your vet about using tick-control products. And whenever possible keep pets from areas that ticks are known to frequent or hide - such as tall grasses or wooded areas.
The next thing you can do is to reduce the amount of ticks in your yard by taking measures such as mowing tall grass, trimming bushes and cleaning up dead wood or leafy debris that may be laying around. The more vegetation there is - the easier it will be for ticks to find hiding spots which can increase your chances of getting them in the yard.
How to get rid of ticks on birds
If you find ticks on your bird, you can use a commercial product like Frontline. It is applied topically to the skin of the bird and will prevent ticks from attaching. You can also bathe your bird in diatomaceous earth, which is an all-natural fertilizer used for gardening or pest control. It will kill the ticks by coating them and drying them out.
Can birds bring ticks to your yard?
It is possible that birds can bring ticks to your yard, but it's only one factor that you should worry about in terms of ticks in your area. If you want to protect yourself against ticks, then focus on these other factors:
- How prevalent are the ticks in your area?
- What type of conditions do they like to live in?
- What is their life cycle like, and how long does it take for them to move through each stage (larvae, nymphs, adults)?
By knowing these factors about ticks in your area you will be able to better protect yourself against them. You should also call pest control companies to find out if they provide services specific for ticks, and ask your neighbors what type of extermination programs have been most effective in their area.
A warm summer will bring a greater number of larva into contact with people or pets. Ticks are usually confined to their hiding spots during the winter, but when spring comes they have already undergone two molts - shedding their skin in order to grow. They can be found crawling on vegetation or waiting for a host at the edge of paths and trails.
Bird feeders can attract ticks to your yard. The feeder itself doesn't bring ticks, but the birds that frequent the feeder do. This is not a major concern because birds don't generally spread a lot of ticks to one area.
Ticks on your property can be controlled with a few simple steps. Understanding the life cycle of ticks in your area and how prevalent they are will help you better protect yourself against them.