Birds from 45 species were sampled during three spring seasons from an isolated canyon on the Sutter Buttes in California for the presence of subadult stages of Ixodes pacificus Cooley & Kohls, and for infection with Borrelia burgdorferi Johnson, Schmid, Hyde, Steigerwalt & Brenner. These birds were found to have an infestation prevalence of 45%, a density of 1.7 ticks per bird, and an intensity of 3.8 ticks per infested bird. There was a significant difference in the I. pacificus infestations between canopy and ground-dwelling birds. Birds also demonstrated an overall infection with B. burgdorferi of 6.4% with significant difference between bird species. Amplification and subsequent sequencing of the 23s-5s rRNA intergenic spacer region of the Borrelia genome from one bird, a hermit thrush, Catharus guttatus (Nuttall), showed that the infection in this bird was caused by B. burgdorferi sensu stricto; the first such finding in a bird from the far west. Our results suggest that birds play a role in the distribution and maintenance of I. pacificus, and possibly of B. burgdorferi, at the Sutter Buttes, CA.
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Vol. 43 • No. 2