We conducted a health survey of house finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) without evidence of Mycoplasma gallisepticum infection in order to establish baseline population health measures and estimate prevalence of potential pathogens likely to influence host susceptibility to mycoplasmosis. Seasonal changes in several physiologic parameters were observed. Weights were greater in winter compared with the breeding season (P < 0.01), fat scores were greater in winter than during fall migration (P < 0.01) or the breeding season (P < 0.01), and packed cell volume and total plasma protein measures during fall migration (P < 0.05) and winter (P < 0.01) were greater than during the breeding season. Culture of voided fecal material yielded 13 bacterial isolates likely representative of normal gastrointestinal flora. Avian pox lesions and blood and gastrointestinal parasite infections were at low prevalence (≤4%) compared with Proctophyllodes spp. feather mite infestations (32%) in the population. All parasites occurred at generally low levels in individual hosts. A logistic regression analysis of our data suggests that greater fat scores, tarsal length, and being male are potential risk factors for mite infestation in house finches.
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Vol. 48 • No. 1