Ground-feeding birds are considered important in the epidemiology of Toxoplasma gondii because they serve as indicators of soil contamination by oocysts, and birds of prey are indicators of T. gondii prevalence in rodents and other small mammals. Cats excrete environmentally resistant oocysts after consuming tissues of T. gondii–infected birds. In the present study, sera and tissues from 382 wild birds from Colorado were tested for T. gondii infection. Antibodies to T. gondii were found in 38 birds with the use of the modified agglutination test (MAT, 1∶25 titer). Tissues (brains, hearts) of 84 birds were bioassayed in mice. Viable T. gondii was isolated from 1 of 1 barn owl (Tyto alba), 1 of 5 American kestrels (Falco sparverius), 1 of 7 ferruginous hawks (Buteo regalis), 1 of 4 rough-legged hawks (Buteo lagopus), 2 of 13 Swainson's hawks (Buteo swainsoni), and 1 of 25 red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis). This is the first time T. gondii has been isolated from the barn owl, ferruginous hawk, rough-legged hawk, and Swainson's hawk.
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Vol. 96 • No. 5